The embattled ex militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo have in an exclusive interview with Gbaramatu Voice Newspaper via electronic mail during the weekend spoke on various issues in the Niger Delta and his ordeal with the Nigerian Government, how his octogenarian father was killed with the host of other issues. He pointed out his possible return to the creeks of Niger Delta, sighting various reasons for his pending return.
Is it true that your late father was manhandled by some security personnel this year?
Yes. It happened on the early hours of Saturday May 28, 2016 when the Nigerian Army under the guise of looking for members of the Niger Delta Avengers and of course my humble self, who they have accused of being behind the activities of the group without any evidence, invaded Kurutie town, where my father, Chief Thomas Ekpemupolo was staying. They ransacked the whole building and brutalized him. He sustained an injury in one of his legs. We took him to Warri for medical attention after one week of the incident due to difficulty in movement from the village to Warri because of the activities of the Army, and he was admitted at Lily Clinic, where thorough medical tests were conducted on him. The doctors later advised that his lower limb should be amputated because complication has set in as a result of the injury. We agreed to this and that was done. However, he later died in the clinic after two months.
How do you feel about his death while you are now on the run?
It is a painful development as my father was unjustly killed by the Army. I had debunked the accusation that I was behind the Niger Delta Avengers at many occasions, therefore the action of the Army was unwarranted. I did not do any wrong by selling my property to the Federal Government through due process, something that was approved by the Federal Executive Council.
Why do you think you are been hounded by the security forces?
I am just a victim of circumstances. I am just a perceived enemy of the government. The intention of the government was to arrest former president Goodluck Jonathan. But they feel that arresting Jonathan without arresting me may be difficult, that was the reason why they are after me.
What will be done about your father’s burial in your absence?
Other members of the family will plan the burial arrangement. However the issue will be taken to the appropriate quarters to seek redress on the gruesome murder of my father.
The people of your community are lamenting about your absence, due to your much-trumpeted philanthropy. Is there anyway you can still help them, especially in this recession period?
It is unfortunate that I am not around to continue to give helping hand to my people as result of my persecution by this government. Before this time, I was doing what the government and multi-national oil companies could not do for the people in the areas of education and health care. My foundation was providing a quality health care for the people in Okerenkoko, where about 90 communities were accessing free health care in surgical operations of any dimension. For about three years while we operated the clinic, about 500 births were recorded. But due to my persecution by this administration, we shut down the medical facility. Even at that, we are still doing something in the area of education. We just awarded scholarships to seven first class graduates from the Benson Idahosa University, Benin, to do their masters in any country of their choice. I do all these to promote peace and usher in development to the coastal areas, but the government and some wicked and selfish individuals do not want that to happen.
Can you still go back to the creek in future?
Why not? That is where I come from, and the whole of my life I have stayed there. This is just a temporary setback as I prefer to stay in the creek than any other place. That was why I led the struggle for a better living condition for the
people so that in the shortest possible time, the creek is urbanized so that the people will live like their counterparts in the urban areas.
What kind of relief do you think the courts can offer you, now that you have sued the Federal Government?
I was the first person to sue the government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because my company’s account was restricted unjustly, but till now, the court has been playing funny, as the court has refused to hear the matter, instead, it has been
adjourning the case at every sitting. I pray that the Nigerian Judiciary should be independent, otherwise, it is difficult for a perceived enemy of the government to get justice
What do you think about the present state of the amnesty programme ?
The amnesty programme has been politicized. The programme was to create the enabling environment for the desired development of the Niger Delta region. It was to be a means to an end, and not an end on its own. The government should hand over the programme to stakeholders to drive, it is only then that the programme can achieve its desired goals.
Why do you think the Niger Delta Avengers include your freedom as one of the conditions to drop their weapons?
I do not know about that, and it is not my problem. Maybe they feel that if I am around, it will be easier to build the peace process because so many of the boys have respect for me.