A minister in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted to Naijiant.com that wanted fugitive Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo has “defeated us”.
Tompolo was a former “commander” of one of the factions of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) who started off around 2006 fighting for economic justice in the Niger Delta, in terms of the use of the proceeds of the oil wealth derived from the region.
He signed up to a peace deal and amnesty programme in 2009 and was rewarded by the federal government at the time with pipeline and waterways security contracts that reportedly made him a billionaire. The extent of his wealth and influence over the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was detailed here:
After Buhari came into power, a warrant for Tompolo’s arrest was issued on charges of theft and money laundering in January 2016. The former “militant” has been evading arrest since – according to the official line.
But one of Buhari’s high profile ministers has a different story to tell. Naijiant.com are not at liberty to disclose the minister’s name because it would threaten his position. He said “we know where Tompolo is, but we have agreed to leave him alone”. This is because any attempt to arrest the fugitive would disrupt Nigeria’s oil production.
The minister claimed that Tompolo was behind the “militant” group Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) who started blowing up oil facilities in March 2016. Their last recorded attack was in November 2016. According to the minister, this was because the government eased off on their pursuit of Tompolo, with the full knowledge that he “could have bankrupted the country” by stopping oil production.
The minister said that the government also “released all his assets”, deciding that it was in the interests of both parties for Tompolo to be left alone. Officially, he remains a wanted man, but he is apparently not wanted bad enough to destroy Nigeria’s main source of revenue.