Thursday, 17 December 2015

Tompolo May Shun Today’s Invitation By EFCC

Former Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, will not appear before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which penultimate Wednesday ordered him to report to the commission today (Thursday) or be declared wanted, Vanguard has learned.

EFCC is investigating Tompolo over alleged fraudulent sale of land to government at N13 billion and  first invited him to appear at its Lagos office, November 25, but he responded through his solicitors, saying he was already in court with the agency.

Sources close to him told Vanguard, yesterday, “He will not appear, we do not trust the EFCC to be fair to him. In the first instance, he had no land deal with government, it was his buildings for the International Diving School, Kurutie, that government purchased for the Federal Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, but they are twisting the story.”

The EFCC was unambiguous in its December 9 letter  by Head of Operations, Iliasu Kwabai, requesting Tompolo to report at its office on December 17, failing which he will be declared wanted.

One of Tompolo’s men, who did not want his name in print,  said: “Let me reiterate that our stand is  that he (Tompolo) will not go to EFCC. He had made the point clear through his lawyer. He is in court with EFCC and will not appear before a commission that does not have respect for the law.

“We maintain that EFCC is partial. It has flagrantly disobeyed court rulings without any reason and we do not have faith in the commission. We all saw how it condescendingly treated the former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and flouted court orders in respect of the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki,” he said.

Mixed reactions

The probability of EFCC declaring Tompolo wanted and launching a manhunt for him if he fails to honour the invitation is generating diverse reactions in the state.

The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta in June 2009 declared Tompolo wanted over the disappearance of 16 service personnel of the Nigerian armed forces and mounted a search for him without finding him. The ex-militant leader surfaced at Abuja in October 2009 to accept presidential amnesty from the Federal Government under the regime of former President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Some Ijaw natives in Delta State and other parts of the Niger Delta see him as a liberator, but others see him as an oppressor.

There are speculations that he had gone into hiding, but sources close to him denied it, saying, “It is not true.”

No tension over his invitation, says Ayiri

However, Niger Delta activist and All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain in Delta State, Chief Ayiri Emami, who spoke to Vanguard on phone, dismissed purported tension in the region over the matter and advised Tompolo to honourably report to the EFCC.

He said, “My advice to him is to appear before EFCC, instead of creating unnecessary embarrassment for himself. He needs to go there and clear himself and not sit at home mouthing some things  because nobody is above the law.”

A group, Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, Warri, led by Mr. Austin Ozobo, however, disagreed with Ayiri, saying, “We condemn the invitation. The Federal Government was not forced into acquisition of the assets by Tompolo, as it passed through the Federal Executive Council, FEC, which approved the purchase. EFCC is painting a wrong picture of the government that handled the land deal.”