If the story in the online edition of the Punch of 13th December, 2014 is true, then Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. According to the Punch Online Extra Report (www.punchng.com), a former Niger Delta Militant, Mr. Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) has bought seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships. The fast-speed Hulk-class guided missile boats had been re-armed with new weaponry, purportedly to fight piracy.
2. Tompolo, if Nigerians will recall, was a known militant granted amnesty by the Yar Adua’s administration, and controls the Global West Vessel Service, a privately-owned company engaged by NIMASA to oversee the security of the Nigerian coastline during Jonathan’s administration.
3. President Jonathan, Tompolo and the DG of NIMASA are all of Ijaw ore see a script being acted out. Nigeria is the only country in the world where individuals – a rehabilitated militant for that matter – is awarded a contract to oversee the security of the coastline of a nation and with powers to import warships and sophisticated arms.
4. The question that begs for answer is this: What is the role of the Nigerian Navy in the protection and the security of the Nigerian coastline? Is the Ministry of Defence aware of all these arms deal?
5. It must be noted that it is well over a year now that Tompolo has been awarded the security contract and since then not only have illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalization and sea-piracy being on the increase but the threat of violence by him and his kinsmen has equally gone up. Then Nigerians must ask: Are these warships and arm deals to fight piracy and other criminal activities on our coastline or to intimidate other ethnic nationalities especially Itsekiri in the Niger Delta or cause destabilization as in the North East?
6. We call on President Jonathan to intervene immediately by withdrawing the contract given to Tompolo by NIMASA and place him under security watch, if not, in the unfortunate event of weapons being turned against the Itsekiris or any other ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta, he will be held responsible for crime against humanity by the international community even if the Nigerian government fails to act.
Dated at Warri this 13th day of December, 2014.
Signed for and on behalf of
WARRI STUDY GROUP
EDWARD EKPOKO, ESQ.