Former Niger Delta militant warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, said he is prepared to meet with the President Muhammadu Buhari on the way forward in the Niger Delta region.
He said he wanted to explain to Mr President “my side of the numerous stories you have been inundated about me.”
The ex-militant leader said that it was in the interest of the nation for the Buhari to employ dialogue, stressing that he should learn from the 2009 invasion of Gbaramatu kingdom and the resultant offer of amnesty by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua when military option failed.
In an open letter to the President on Tuesday, Tompolo complained bitterly that the military had not returned his symbol of authority as the Chief Priest of Egbesu Shrine, Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom, that was removed from the traditional temple when soldiers invaded the town recently in search of members of Niger Delta Avengers.
He said in the letter: “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.
“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 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,” he advised.
He however appealed to the President to direct the army to return items including a golden sword that is the symbol of authority of the Gbaramatu kingdom and other artefacts allegedly looted from shrines in Oporoza.
“Today is exactly 31 days after (another) 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, with the allegation that I am the one behind the bombing and destruction of crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
“I was informed that the army was on the loose, and committed so much abomination in the community.
“The military made away with the symbol of Authority of the Gbaramatu people from the Egbesu Shrine, which I am the Chief Priest. They also made away with other valuables worth several millions of naira from the community.
“The most annoying one is the purported arrest of 10 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.
“Mr President, remember, there is no condition that is permanent. I have kept faith in this country. I have contributed in no small measure to the development of this country. It is my prayer that God Almighty should preserve me and meet you again to tell you my side of the numerous stories you have been inundated about me.
“This was how they arrested Chevron Nigeria Limited Staff on routine duty in Kokodiagbene community of Gbaramatu kingdom, and labeled them members of Niger Delta Avengers. It took spirited effort by leaders of the kingdom and other well -meaning Nigerians to convince the military, that the arrested men were not involved in pipeline destruction.”
He added: “Your Excellency Sir, as they say, wonders shall never end, I am still in a great shock as the only developmental project, Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, 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 University’s take off,” he said.