In an open letter released today, former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to learn from the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Tompolo, who had earlier raised an alarm on the alleged seizure of the “golden crown” of Egbesu, an Ijaw deity, said a similar incident under Yar’Adua led to hostilities, which made the late president declare amnesty for militants, adding that a manhunt for him by the military led to a lot of atrocities in Gbaramatu kingdom.
“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.
“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,” Tompolo said.
Tompolo also appealed to the president not to relocate the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, established by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“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,” he said in the letter.
“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.
“Mr President sir, I wish to challenge you to send your most trusted persons to 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 in 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,”the statement read.
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