by Iyobosa Omoregie
Ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, has denied masterminding the abduction of 14 journalists, describing the allegations as untrue and misleading.
Tompolo was alleged to have recently abducted journalists in the creeks of Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Delta State.
Tompolo, however, stated that over time, he has maintained a cordial relationship with journalists, adding that some of the kidnapped reporters are his friends.
“It has become necessary to make this clarification in the face of the deliberate distortion of facts by some mischief makers bent on denigrating my person and questioning my integrity before the larger society. More so, I am persuaded by the fact of my experience as a crusader for equity, fairness and justice the world over including the oppressed people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area, who have always found brotherliness and companionship in members of the fourth estate of the realm.
“In the case of the Ijaw of the Niger Delta which I have championed over the years, journalists have been worthy partners even as their contributions have served as veritable means to ventilate our views, opinions and positions as a people who have had cause to draw global attention to our plight. However, in the matter of the hyped ‘abduction’ of journalists in Oporoza last week, it is pertinent to state that they were victims of an orchestrated and well-rehearsed saga by their Itsekiri clients, who lured them into a trap.
“Suffice it to say that unknown to the journalists (some of whom are my friends) and before their arrival in Warri, their Itsekiri hosts had concluded plans to video-capture some Ijaw settlements, especially Ikpokpo community, to show to the world as Itsekiri lands in their desperate attempt to distort historical facts, especially as the hosting/citing of the Export Processing Zone, EPZ, project poses some challenges.
“It should be noted that the Gbaramatu people have been agitating for inclusion in the EPZ project since 2012, as of right, that the part of the land earmarked for the project starting from Ikpokpo community belongs to them.
“It was on the strength of the above that in November 2013, the Gbaramatu people were invited alongside other stakeholders, to the unveiling meeting of the project at Government House Annex Warri by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the state government. At the said meeting, the Gbaramatu people, out of curiosity, inquired why they have not been recognised as stakeholders by way of acquisition of land from them. But to their surprise, the governor shut them out of the project and merely identified them as ‘impacted community,” Tompolo said.