by Lekan Olanrewaju
A former militant leader in the Niger Delta has been linked to a security deal with the government.
According to the Associated Press, Government Ekpumopolo, or Government Tompolo as he is known, been connected to a private security company which signed a $103 million deal with the government to patrol and protect the country’s waterways against pirates.
Tompolo had been a commander in the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, launched a series of attacks against foreign oil companies in the niger delta region between 2006 and 2009. He had however laid down his arms as part of the government amnesty program.
The Associated Press report also makes mention of an editorial in a newspaper in the northern part of the country, The Daily Trust, speaking out against the news, saying: “It is alarming that the patrol and control of Nigeria’s coastal borders is being handed to a private concern, run by a known warlord, even (if) he is a rehabilitated rebel,”.
However, the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency defended the contract, saying people should be “mindful of their utterances”, and pointing out that ex-convicts have gone on to become presidents.
“Even if it were to be owned by a militant, what offense has the militant has committed in owning a business?” he asked. “Here is a country where people have served prison terms and become heads of state or presidents. … When people say ‘ex-militant this,’ ‘ex-militant that,’ they should be mindful of their utterances.”