Ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo, has given reasons behind his non-appearance in court over alleged involvement in N34 billion fraud rocking the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, for which a bench warrant for his arrest has been issued.
Tompolo is believed to have fraudulently sold a land to NIMASA for the take-off of the Niger Delta Maritime University in Okerenkoko community in Delta State.
But in an open letter he addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the leader of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), declared his innocence in the alleged fraud and blamed his travails on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), its lawyer, Festus Keyamo and some ex-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He specifically accused a former governor and APC candidate in the just concluded governorship election in Bayelsa – Timipre Sylva – of being after him.
Tompolo said: “The truth of the matter is that I do not know anything about the N34 billion Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is talking about. First, it was N13 billion issue, now it is N34 billion.
“I am not a signatory to any of the companies mentioned in the said N34 billion case, so I do not know where this one is coming from.
“I know that God in His infinite mercy will see me through in this critical moment”.
The letter sent yesterday by his media aide, Comrade Paul Bebenimbo to some media houses, accused the EFCC and its team of lawyers of using the case for personal vendetta against him.
Tompolo, who last week also had cause to raise the alarm over plans by his detractors to blow up oil facilities in the Niger Delta and turn around to blame it on him, pleaded with President Buhari to be wary of some of his party members in the Niger Delta, particularly those who recently defected to the APC.
He said: “They (APC members) are the ones carrying out the act to smear my name. They are doing this in connivance with the EFCC lawyer, who is also a member of your party, who is in the forefront of prosecuting me because I refused to buy a property from him”.
“As for the EFCC lawyer, he approached me some years back that I should come to Abuja and Lagos to buy some choice property worth billions of naira from him. I told him that I do not have such money to buy property.
“Since then he has been looking for any opportunity to drag me into matters I do not know anything about. And this is one of the reasons why I have not appeared in the court because he is not qualified to prosecute me”, he added.
This claim was however, denied by Keyamo, who stressed that the case against the former militant leader was not a personal issue.
He urged Tompolo to take his defence to the law court.
On the ex-governor, he said: “I wish to inform you that it has come to my knowledge that the leader of your party and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa and a few young men from Warri South West council of Delta State, who joined the party from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the 2015 presidential election, are bent on linking me to the renewed vandalism of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, whereas they are the ones carrying out the act to smear my name. They are doing this in connivance with the EFCC lawyer.
“The leader of your party in Bayelsa State approached me shortly after my meeting with you in Abuja that I should accompany him to meet you and plead for him to be appointed special adviser (SA) and chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which I refused to do because of his antecedents, as an unreliable and trustworthy person.
“It was thereafter he forced his way into the governorship election of the state, which almost tore the state apart with violence, beginning with the party primary in which he demonstrated a high level of desperation as was recounted by the Chairman of the committee and Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
“As for members of the party from my local government area, Warri South-West, they have been involved in illegal bunkering and oil theft activities over the years, which I have been fighting against because of my love for country. They know me as a no-nonsense person. There is this one from Gbaramatu kingdom with me that has sworn to kill me because I refused to manipulate the ascension to our traditional stool in his favour when he was not even qualified for it. And so, he looks for any opportunity to deal with me”.