Former Niger Delta warlord, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo has appealed to the new militant group called Niger Delta Avengers to stop its campaign against oil production in the country and “give peace a chance”.
Tompolo, a leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), made the appealed through a press release e-mailed to The Trent on Sunday, May 29, 2016 said that his appeal has become necessary because of his personal interest and the interest of the people of the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta Avengers say it is waging a war for a free Niger Delta Republic in what it tags, Operation Red Economy, with a view of halting crude oil production in Nigeria to force the government to grant the group’s demands. The group has presented an 11-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari and the first is the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. [Download Conference report HERE.]
In the statement titled, A Call to the Niger Delta Avengers to Give Peace a Chance in the Niger Delta Region”, Tompolo urged the new generation militants to “put an end to this act of pipeline vandalism as it will not do our dear country any good, especially in this critical period of our economic history.”
“I wish to appeal to you to stop the bombing of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region and embrace the path of dialogue with the Federal Government,” Tompolo said. “Government is ready to hear you out on whatever issues you wish to discuss with it. If truly as you guys claim that you are fighting for the well-being of the people of the Niger Delta, then you must adhere to this appeal, otherwise, the world will label you as criminals.”
He noted that his concerned reaction was partly prompted by the attempts in certain quarters to link him (Ekpemupolo) with the spate of bombing of oil pipelines in Delta and Bayelsa states, but for which the NDA has claimed responsibility.
He said that there have been theories regarding the real brains behind the different bombings in the last few weeks that have reportedly severely reduced crude oil production in the Niger Delta with some people claiming that some beneficiaries of Tompolo’s scholarship and other empowerment schemes.
“You are aware that some mischievous persons have continued to point fingers at me,” the former warlord said. “They said that I am either behind you or directly carrying out the destruction of oil pipelines across the Niger Delta region.”
“They have even called for my arrest by the military without a single proof that I am truly behind you people.
“I still maintain that I know nothing about your group and the destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
“Once again, I urge you to put an end to this economic sabotage and allow the government to look into your demands now, I believe a word is enough for the wise,” the statement.
Moreover, he said the Delta Avengers might be unconsciously helping the course of some dubious businessmen particularly from the oil-rich region who are actually pipeline vandals and oil thieves but who would end up being given the contracts for the repair of the pipelines they (the NDA) were now destroying.
He said pipeline vandalism was counter-productive to the economic growth of the country, especially at this critical time when the economy was contracting.