Warri â€” COMMANDER of the Joint Task Force, Major-General Sarkin Yakin Bello, Wednesday at Camp 5, told our news agency that he has uncovered materials linking Government Ekpemupolo’s (Tompolo) activities with external influences.
Also, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State who was at Camp 5 with the JTF Commander denied paying a whopping N100 million monthly to Tompolo, as security allowance.
The JTF boss added that he recovered some documents from the militant leader’s house which he believed would be useful to his investigations, including a copy of the secret 2007 report of a former JTF commander, then Brigadier-General Lawerence Ngubane, which leaked to the militants. Also recovered was a brochure of an armoured vehicle from Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Major General Yakin Bello said he was so carried away by the heap of documents that he abandoned sleep to read through them on Wednesday night. He however told Vanguard that he was yet to put his finger on Tompolo’s foreign connections after reading the various documents. Investigations still continue, he said.
He also averred that Tompolo fled in a hurry, as he did not have time to remove his sensitive documents from the house or he thought the task force would not get as far as searching the apartment before the face-off would be sorted out.
Uduaghan denies paying Tompolo N100m monthly
Governor Uduaghan on his part rebuffed the widespread claim that he was paying N100 million monthly as security allowance to Tompolo, who was declared wanted, a week ago, by the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta.
Answering questions from newsmen, Wednesday, during his visit to Oporoza community, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom, where he visited to assess the situation in the creeks since the May 13 bloodbath between soldiers and militants started in the state, the governor who observed a self-imposed one-day prayer and fasting session for God to deliver the state from all forms of criminality said, “anybody who is saying that is also a criminal.
“I have seen some of your reports in the newspapers and our Legal Department is looking into it”, he stated, querying, “How much am I getting that I would be giving N300 million to one person out of the four million people that are in Delta State.”
In his opinion, “some of these statements have its own political angle and its political propaganda. I know some people are using this situation (military operation) as a political propaganda against this government”, adding,
“But I would do what I would continue to do as a governor, the way I know is best for our people.
“The story of this development is quite a long story. It did not start from this administration, it did not start from the President Musa Yar’Adua’s administration. If we go back to the beginning of this problem, we will know that it did not even start in 1999 it went beyond 1999”, he asserted.
Tompolo still hiding in Oporoza
Major-General Sarkin Yarkin-Bello also said wanted militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo was still hiding in Oporoza many days after his “Aso Villa” residence in the community was bombed by the JTF.
His words: “For your information, even many days after this bombing, Tompolo was still in this community here. That is Glo mast there, we have all call history, he is still here in this community.
“It’s just that we exercised a lot of restraint, otherwise, knowing that he was some here, we would have gone on bombing everywhere. As you can see, it was only two places that were bombed.”
He said the Cordon and Search operation of the task force has not been called off and the militant leader should surrender himself for questioning over the disappearance of 18 soldiers and other criminal activities.
Uduaghan, JTF Commander visit Tompolo’s den
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and the Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta, Major-General Sarkin Yarkin-Bello on Wednesday visited the once-dreaded Camp 5, the notorious militant den in the creeks of Delta state, run by wanted militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, which is now under the control of the task force.
Battle-ready soldiers were on ground and positioned in strategic locations when the governor and the military Commander arrived the camp, abandoned by militants in the heat of the aerial bombardment and ground attack by the JTF, on May 15.
At the residence of the fleeing militant boss, known as ‘Aso Villa’ in Oporoza, more than eight shrines were counted around the neighbourhood and according to Major General Yarkin-Bello, it is the shrines that give the militants the false sense of power they think they have by tying amulets and other things around their waists and heads.
Camp 5, where the Filipinos and over 20 hostages that were kidnapped between May 13 and 14 when the gun battle between the soldiers and militants were kept has no fewer than four white-painted block buildings with blue Alumaco roofs, a training ground and a jetty, which served as an exit route for the militants.
Tompolo is obviously in love with blue and white colours, as his ‘Aso Rock’ apartment in Oporoza, which was also bombed with cannons and rockets also has blue Alumaco rooftop and also painted white.
Major-General Yarkin-Bello told Governor Uduaghan that Tompolo ran the camp as a quasi-military structure as the commander. The governor was told that that the second-in-command to Tompolo, the trainers and other top officers of the militant group have their separate accommodation in the den.
The camp also has an armoury, which was abandoned in the heat of gunfire, and the task force said it recovered some General Purpose Machine Guns and other weapons, shown to newsmen some days earlier.
It was learnt that the militants underestimated the JTF, as they thought the soldiers would invade the camp through the waterways and so, explosives were planted for them, but, the commander anticipated their game plan, and struck from both air and land. There was nobody to trigger off the explosives when the ground forces arrived and the task force has been defusing the devices.
The Commander took the governor to a waterway at the back of the camp from where he said the militants apparently escaped into the forest on that day. There is a standby generator running with diesel in the camp and what was clear is that those who built the camp were not in a hurry to leave the place, since they built permanent structures.
Left for the Commander, Camp 5 should be turned to a hospital but the decision is not for him to make, it is the Federal Government that would take the decision.
He showed the governor a water bike and speedboat, belonging to Tompolo, both are white in colour.
At the controversial ‘Aso Villa’ in Oporoza, which Major-General Yarkin-Bello noted is an extension of Camp 5, the governor was told that some arms were recovered in the ceiling of the house and the laundry house.
Tompolo is a highly-organised person from what was seen at Camp 5 and his Oporoza home showed he is a man of taste. Virtually every room in the apartment, which some sources said is the community’s guest house is luxuriously furnished. The house has between 17-20 rooms with three sitting rooms.
The militant leader has a communication room in the mansion, where he keeps in touch with the world and things happening around him globally. Major General Yarkin-Bello was interested when one of his men picked up a photograph of a jet fighter, suspected to have been downloaded from the internet by Tompolo.
It was discovered from the avalanche of newspapers in his room that Tompolo could be an avid reader of newspapers for virtually the copies of every major national newspaper were found there and he also downloaded news stories published by newspapers on the internet inside his house. The JTF told newsmen earlier that it recovered a cyber cafe used by the militants.
Governor Uduaghan also marvelled at various findings the JTF commander said he made in the house, particularly the arms found in the ceilings and the laundry room.
How to tackle drop in crude production – DPR
Acting Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Warri Zonal Office, Mr. Billy Agha, has called for a meeting of the relevant stakeholders in the oil industry, particularly the host communities and the Federal Government to ensure that crude oil production, which has plunged from 3.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) to 2.5 mbpd, that is a shortfall of 1 mbpd does not plummet further as a result of the ongoing war in the creeks of Delta state.
Speaking at a long-service award ceremony by the company for its deserving staff, he said the impasse should be resolved once and for all to allow for full-blown production activities.
He advised Niger-Delta youths to be resourceful and employ legitimate means in articulating their position on issues, saying the application of violence that could lead to military action, which endangers the lives of the people, was not a good option.