By Godspower Edoza
Former militant and wanted businessman, Government Ekpemupolo (also known as Tompolo), on Monday denied ever being behind the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) or sponsoring violence in the Niger Delta.
The accusation was made by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA).
Tompolo spoke through his media consultant, Paul Bebenimibo. He said that he would never destroy pipelines, having accepted amnesty and once protected them in a contractual agreement with government.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored these media statements by these so-called avengers and reformed avengers because it is not a new tactics by these groups in bringing Tompolo’s name to whatever thing that happens in the Niger Delta region because of his legal battle with the government.
“Let it be stated at this point that Tompolo is not the only person having legal issues with the present government. Let us also state here that these accusations do not take away the fact that our dear country is in a crossroad.
“We wish to reiterate our earlier stand that nothing will make Tompolo to resort to destruction of oil facilities he once protected in a contractual arrangement. Those that have ears let them hear,” he said.
Meanwhile, a key community leader from Nigeria’s tense Delta oil-producing region on Sunday appealed to militants not to resume their attacks until they had further time to negotiate their demands with the government.
Chief Edwin Clark, who leads the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), which has been holding peace talks with the government since last year, called on the Niger Delta Avengers militant group to “be patient.”
The Avengers, whose attacks last year wrought havoc on the nation’s oil output, promised on Friday a “brutish, brutal and bloody” return to violence because they said they had “lost faith” in local leaders to get what they wanted from the government.
“This is not the time to resume hostilities,” Clark said in a statement issued by the Presidential Amnesty Programme. “It is true that the federal government has not been quite serious about the negotiations, but we are asking the Niger Delta Avengers to maintain the peace.”
He added that PANDEF was sending a delegation to meet the group’s leaders.
The Avengers, like many in the Niger Delta, say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to stay in the impoverished swampland region, which produces the bulk of the oil but is largely underdeveloped.
The statement came after a government delegation led by Brigadier General Paul Boroh, special adviser to the president on the Niger Delta, visited Clark at his Abuja home on Sunday. Clark said Boroh assured him that the talks were “back on track”, and that PANDEF leaders would meet soon in Warri.
The 2016 attacks slashed oil output to close to 1 million barrels per day from roughly 2.2 million bpd. That along with low oil prices pushed the nation into its first recession in 25 years.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.