High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, is on the run from Federal Government forces who have accused him of aiding new militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers. He spoke exclusively to SAM OLUWALANA in this e-mail interview about the death of his father, his alleged persecution and what President Muhammadu Buhari needs to do to get the nation back on track amongst others. Excerpts:
Is it true that your late father died after he was man-handled by security
Yes. It happened in 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 a week after 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 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 on 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 wanted 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’s 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.
How do you react to the allegation that you are one of the sponsors of
the Niger Delta Avengers?
It is baseless and a wicked allegation. I have refuted the
allegation. Even the government knows that I am not a sponsor of the Niger Delta Avengers. They are only looking for something to nail me. But they have failed. Now Nigerians have seen the way the government has run the economy aground because they are clueless, and only
chasing shadows. It is difficult to give what you do not have.
Why do you think the Niger Delta Avengers include your freedom as one of the conditions to down 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.
Are you still able to 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; it 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 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 desiredgoals.