Ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpemupolo (AKA Tompolo) has expressed a wish to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the Niger Delta crisis.
Tompolo who is still in hiding, in a letter to the President said the meeting would present him with an opportunity to tell President Buhari his own side of the story.
His letter reads:
“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 4thBrigade, 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. 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. They also made away with other valuables, worth several millions of naira, from the community. We are presently being treated like conquered people because of crude oil.
Mr President sir, please permit me to quickly recall a similar incident that occurred in May, 2009, when this same military invaded several communities in Gbaramatu kingdom, under the command of 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 99 billion naira 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 find out that military action is not the best way to address the Niger Delta question, and the rest become a history in the life of those who led that invasion. I believe Mr President should learn a lesson from the 2009 military invasion and do the needful.”