Embattled ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemukpolo, otherwise known as Tompolo, has written President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking the return of ‘Golden Sword’, which he described as the symbol of authority of the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Council of Delta State, allegedly carted away last May by troops of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF).
In his latest letter to the president, Tompolo narrated the ordeal of the Gbaramatu Kingdom, stating that the Nigerian military had not returned the Golden Sword and the palace staff which they took away from Oporoza town on Saturday, May 28, during the siege upon the town. He also lamented the situation of innocent students who were still missing.
“Your Military has not returned the Golden Sword (Symbol Of Authority) and the innocent students as well as the Palace Staff picked up at Oporoza town, on Saturday, May,28, 2016 to Gbaramatu Kingdom. Please permit and pardon my choice of words in this letter, His Excellency sir, as I am out to convey the obvious to you. It is pertinent to mention that I respect your position as the President of Nigeria and your age, as I am a well brought up African child,” he wrote.
According to him, “Today is exactly 31 days after the invasion of the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oporoza town, by your military led by Brig. General Faruk Yahaya of the 4th Brigade, Benin City, in search of me, with the allegation that I am the one behind the bombing and destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, and the incident happened in my absence, but I was informed that the army was on the loose, and committed so much abomination in the community.
“Imagine, the traditional ruler of the kingdom was literally placed on house arrest for one week. As I said in my previous publications, the military made away with the Symbol of Authority of the Gbaramatu people from the Egbesu Shrine, of which I am the Chief Priest.”
Tompolo alleged also that, “They also made away with other valuables worth several millions of naira from the community. The most annoying one is the purported arrest of ten young promising men most of whom are orphans, who are secondary school students sitting for the West African Senior Secondary School Examinations (WASSCE) and other palace staff, and labelled them as members of the Niger Delta Avengers.
“As I write you now, these innocent young promising men are still with your military for no reason. This is truly man’s inhumanity to man in our own country. We are presently being treated like conquered people because of crude oil. This was how they arrested Chevron Nigeria Limited staff on routine duty in Kokodiagbene community of Gbaramatu kingdom, and labelled them members of Niger Delta Avengers. It took spirited efforts by leaders of the kingdom and other well-meaning Nigerians to convince the military, that the arrested men were not involved in pipeline destruction.”
Tompolo recalled that a similar incident occurred in May, 2009, when the military invaded several communities in Gbaramatu kingdom, under the command of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
“Traditional worship centres were desecrated, property were looted and above all, the multi-billion naira ultra-modern magnificent palace of the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom was burned down, and his golden crown was stolen by the Military.
“As peace loving people, the kingdom approached the courts and demanded compensation for the unlawful invasion and destruction of property, in which the court awarded N99 billion in favour of Gbaramatu kingdom.
“After seven years of that sad incident, the Federal Government is yet to pay the compensation. This incident also led to the declaration of the Presidential Amnesty programme for peace to reign, as the government found out that Military action was not the best way to address the Niger Delta question, and the rest has become history in the lives of those who led that invasion,” he said.
The ex-warlord admonished the president to learn lessons from the 2009 invasion and for him to the needful for the people of the Niger Delta. “I believe Mr. President should learn a lesson from the 2009 military invasion and do the needful.
“Your excellency sir, as they say, ‘wonders shall never end’, am still in a great shock as the only developmental project, which is the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, that was established by the previous administration in 2014, in the coastal area of the Niger Delta region to meet the yearnings and the aspiration of the people is yet to commence academic session, even though all is set for the University to take off.
“For instance, there are over 20 gigantic buildings of various sizes with complete furniture in the temporary site Kurutie town, which some mischievous people have given different narrations,” he said.
He challenged the president to send his most trusted aides to Gbaramatu saying, “let them come and see things for you, and I bet you, you will discover that some of your Ministers are not fit to work with you, because such ones are a clog in the wheel of progress as against your change mantra upon which you rode into power.
“That is not all, there is a Governing Council and Senate properly constituted and a Management Council headed by a very qualified Professor of Engineering. What is more, even money was duly appropriated in the 2015 budget for the University to take off, but was withheld for no reason. This is pure injustice of the highest order.”