By Binebai Princewill
Youths of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State have Written to President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the case of high Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo on the need to rethink and to revisit the case of Niger Delta most revered former warlord in order to immediately release his funds and properties earlier frozen and confiscated by the federal government of Nigeria.
The youths operating under the auspices of Gbaramatu Youth Council, GYC made the call yesterday via a statement signed by its national youth President, Christopher Wuruyai, a copy of which was sent to The Liberator Newspaper.
The statement while describing the fight against Tompolo as politically motivated noted that there is no justification from the presidency towards the continued frozen of his accounts and the confiscation of his properties, stressing that the former warlord meant well for the development of the Niger Delta region.
GYC particularly appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently give directives to the relevant agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision, EFCC and security operatives to do the needful.
While frowning at the politically cooked up fight against Chief Ekpemupolo by the federal government, Wuruyai had also decried the poor state of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region, stressing that the Government must make concerted efforts in developing the region.
However, the Gbaramatu Youths while backing Tompolo noted that he is not the only Niger Delta Ex-agitator who enjoyed the benefits that followed the Amnesty programme, adding that his quest for developing the region must not be paid with political incarceration and endless witch hunt.
The youths also lamented bitterly on how security agencies looted Tompolo’s properties allegedly worthing billions of naira ceased by the federal government in Warri, Delta State.
Meanwhile, national president of Gbaramatu Youth Council, Wuruyai had called on well meaning Niger Deltans to continue to raise their voices and mount pressure on the federal government on the issue of this lingering political battle between the federal government of Nigeria and Tompolo.
The statement reads in part: “We write to appeal strongly to Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to as matter of his sincere willingness to develop the Niger Delta Region, revisit the case of High Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo whose properties and funds have since been politically confiscated by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for alleged corruption charges months after the inception of this administration for which no single individual charged alongside Tompolo has been convicted upon. We make this appeal to the conscience of Mr. President to reconsider all aspect of democratic principles with respect to the rule of law, give directives to the relevant security agencies to secure a timely release of his funds and properties.
“This call became necessary on the ground that we could no longer see any justification to the continuous frozen of Tompolo’s accounts and confiscation of his legally owned properties, as these were all politically orchestrated from onset. Our argument is based on the fact that the Miyenka Dive Institute, Kurutie that was sold by Tompolo, the owner and operator of same property to the Nigeria Government under former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for the sum of N13 Billion was one of the cardinal issues that brought about his ordeal. And same has been long possessed by the Federal Government for the purpose of the Nigeria Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko take off campus, Kurutie for which purpose it was bought from the owner (Tompolo). Put straight, if the federal government has since taken possession of the said property bought over from Tompolo for the sum of N13 billion which was allegedly the main reason for his incarceration, then what is the justification to his ordeal? This we could only interpret as the highest height of unjust and oppressive use of Federal might against citizens of goodwill whose legally acquired properties the Nigeria government pretended to have bought for the purpose of development and oppressively deny them of their right to same proceeds. As widely known, the physical presence of those edifices built by Tompolo for his diving institute, was the bases for the reinstatement of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko in the instance when it was scrapped by the Minister of Transportation Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. This act by the Federal Government is equivalent to the old African adage of the carrot and the whip stick, where the Nigerian Government pays Tompolo for his properties with one hand and froze same proceeds with another, what a use of federal might against its citizens!
“Subsequently, one could wonder why the Gbaramatu Youths have decided to come bold on this demand. It is because Tompolo was not the only leader of Niger Delta ex-agitators who enjoyed the dividends that followed the Federal Government Amnesty programme. Perhaps he was the only man who managed to reinvest in his community and the Niger Delta at large in the genuine bid to open up his area to attract the needed development and to permanently end all form of violent in this part of the region. More so, to create employment opportunities for our teaming unemployed graduates, train to international standard of certification those youths who are willing to venture into the underwater profession as their career path. And based on what he has already built for that purpose, he was able to influence the Nigeria Maritime University to his Kingdom (Gbaramatu) and the Niger Delta at large.
“Furthermore, we come strong to argue these glaring facts on the ground that, we firmly believe that Tompolo’s purposeful leadership in the Niger Delta Region is unwaveringly committed to find genuine and lasting solution to the Nigerian problems that emanates from the region. As he is determine to create a sustainable peace devoid of political, ethnic and religious sentiment with the view to complement effort geared toward our collective development. This, the Federal government of Nigeria, if genuine, should also be committed to for the sustenance of the prevailing peace in the Niger Delta. Our appeal on behalf of Tompolo was informed by the undisputable fact that he (Tompolo) was the first private individual to have embarked on an institution like Miyenka Dive, a project worth Billions of Naira in the heart of the creeks of the Niger Delta. With the believe that ‘’if we refuse to develop ourselves, no government can develop us. And for me to keep the peace and genuinely commit myself to the development of my people irrespective of our ethnic diversity, I thought I should be the first to reinvest my heart in my perceived trouble zone. And this investment should be inform of an institution for that is the only way the Itsekiri and the Ijaw Youths can live freely together thereby undermining this perpetual tribal acrimony in our land. Also I believe this is the only way the North, South East and West meaning the whole of Nigeria can come and see that we living in the creeks of the Niger Delta can also be as peaceful as every other parts of the country and deserve some dividend of this thing you people call democracy if the government is sincere on its developmental plans. This I see as the best way in genuinely keeping the peace as well as championing the course for our collective emancipation as a people.’’ This was the drive that gave birth to the Miyenka Dive institution Kurutie, a diving school with the state of the heart facilities to complete international standard, has been converted to the present Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko take off campus in Kurutie after it was bought over by the past administration for this purpose. Adding, ‘’And when the Nigeria Maritime University opportunity came, I quickly persuasively appealed to all key stakeholders in siting the university in my area for which they agreed after an exhaustive consultations with all key stakeholders and pledged their support to site it at Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West LGA of Delta State.’’
“In lieu of the above, we argue as follows:
1. The 13 Billion Naira transaction which was the main reason for Tompolo’s ordeal is not a scam, rather a real deal which its equivalent (Miyenka Dive Institute Kurutie), the Federal government of Nigeria now takes possession as the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, take off campus, Kurutie. To further buttress this point, the Nigeria National Assembly in no doubt attest to the fact that indeed the property Tompolo built for the purpose of establishing his Miyenka Diving Institution in Kurutie which he sold for 13 billion Naira is truly in existence. This was the reason for which the National Assembly after a successful visit to the property at Kurutie for physical site inspection, has passed the Bill that establish the Nigeria Maritime University Okerenkoko, which presently await presidential assent.
“2. That if his properties and the proceeds of the sale of Miyenka Dive Institution, Kurutie is released to him, we are very confident he will still go ahead to establish the Miyenka Dive Institute somewhere in the heart of the creeks in the Niger Delta to further consolidate the already established Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko. Therefore to confiscate his properties and the continued frozen of his accounts is like sapping the will of self-development in the Niger Delta, which we believe is the panacea to the Nigeria problem that emanates from the Niger Delta as a result of age long underdevelopment.
“3. We no longer believe that the relevant security agencies saddled with the responsibility to take possession of Tompolo’s properties on behalf of the Nigerian Federal Government can genuinely take such responsibility as delegated to them by the Federal government, pending the expiration of this political time bound. This is because, in Warri, the Nigerian Naval officers drafted to secure the properties have turned criminals and have completely loot empty properties worth Billions of Naira left in Tompolo’s Dockyard at the time of their possession. This, even the Nigeria Navy has confirmed and is currently investigating with some officers already in the guardroom and their associates in police net which was widely reported on national dailies. For a country like Nigeria to have brought this magnitude of punishment on the persons of Tompolo who had in the recent past go all the way out to fight illegal bunkering of crude oil in the Nigeria coast belt to it barest minimum just to prove political point is something that keep one awake all night anytime to reminisce.
“4. We see no need for the continues possession of his properties for criminal elements in our security system to permanently dispose him of his properties by the way of loot, nor the continuous froze of his account as no single individual charged alongside Tompolo on the alleged corruption charges since the inception of this eight years administration in its fight against corruption has been convicted. We know that if Tompolo had yielded to this federal oppression and had submitted himself for the rule of law to prevail, this is how the government would have arbitrarily humiliate him to the confinement of their prison walls for as long as this administration would last. This point is made strong due to the continuous detention of Sheikh El-Zagzaky of the Shiite Muslim sect against all court orders that grants his immediate release. In addition, Tompolo’s decision not to submit himself to the big heart of the rule of law which have been often time abused and undermined by this administration to vindicate him could only be seen by us as a well thought out decision to save this great country from the highest form of embarrassment from millions of sympathizers ranging from intellectuals to security intelligence, ex-agitators and what have you. The fight against corruption has been all along a toothless dog and delusion of recovered looted funds that could not be traced to any individual or for those arrested and charged, no one has been convicted upon. Even the whistle blowing policy that is capable of only blowing out allegedly hiding looted funds that could not blow out the looters who hide the funds is nothing but a political Abrakadabra geared toward undermining, for the second time the sensitivity of well-meaning Nigerians who have consistently wondered and questioned the genuineness of this said fight against corruption. For us as youths in the Niger Delta who cannot be deterred in the firm believe on our leader High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo A.K.A Tompolo are only but asking just one question: What is the sustainability plan of this fight against corruption with fairness to all Nigerians that will make it outlive this administration? As it has been admitted in several quarters that Nigeria corruption is more institutional based. Thus, only a government that is ready to strengthen our institutions to be self-sufficient to stamp-out corruption from the system could be seen as genuine in the fight against corruption. This view is on the bases that only institutional means of fighting corruption is sustainable and can outlive a government or even a political party in power.
“5. It is upon these backdrop, we strongly appeal to highly placed Niger Deltans and well-meaning Nigerians from all works of life to put pressure on the Federal government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari to give directives to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) to as a matter of yielding to the doctrine of the supremacy to the rule of law and due process as entrenched in the principals of democracy, put to end the highly politically orchestrated incarceration of our leader Tompolo and release to him his funds and properties by revisiting his case with the view to genuinely attend and solve the Nigeria Problem that emanates from the Niger Delta.” Gbaramatu Youth Council asserted.
It would be recalled that the Gbaramatu Youth Council under the firm leadership of Christopher Wuruyai had on September 13th 2018 placed similar call on President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the issues.