Tompolo’s warships: New toys for the sacred cow

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The story broke last week. Former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo has acquired six new “toys”. These are decommissioned battleships from Norway. A Norwegian newspaper, DAGBLADET, was quoted as saying that the fast-speed Hauk-class guided missile boats were re-armed with new weaponry. The report went further that the ships were first sold to a British security company, CAS Global which had a license to purchase such warships, before selling to Tompolo, who would have needed an export license from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So through a roundabout manner, Tom Polo has become the “proud owner” of six new warships, ostensibly purchased to become part of the inventory of Global West Vessel Service. That is the company through which the government of Goodluck Jonathan, contracted maritime security duties to Tom Polo, via the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Transition to world of business

Government Ekpemupolo is one of the sacred cows of the Nigeria of President Goodluck Jonathan. Tompolo spent many years militarily subverting the Federal Republic of Nigeria. When an Amnesty Programme was instituted, he made a financial kill and did the transition into the world of business; the business of becoming the Czar of Nigeria’s waterways. The lumpen warlord has become one of the richest individuals of the Goodluck Jonathan era in Nigeria. The recent purchase of six warships by a man with Tom Polo’s record just underlines the sorry pass that our country has been taken in the past six years. The dangers to Nigeria seem so obvious to people watching from the sidelines, but it seems the Jonathan presidency cannot “give a damn” about Tom Polo’s six new toys. Well a few days ago, a pan-Itsekiri organization, the Warri Study Group (WSG), expressed fear that Tom Polo could turn his new warships against the “the Itsekiri and other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta”, in a statement signed by Edward Ekpoko and Tony Ede, Chairman and Secretary respectively of the WSG. There has been no love lost between Tom Polo’s Ijaw and other groups in Delta state and it was testimony to Tom Polo’s larger than life presence in the Niger Delta, that he was able to stop President Jonathan from visiting the area to perform an official assignment!

But the WSG also pointed out more disturbing issues. For instance, it alleged that Tom Polo’s acquisition of warships violate Nigerian law; pointing out that Part II Section 17 of the Private Guard Companies Act forbids private security companies from procuring or carrying deadly weapons. But it seems that the provisions of the law are not to be obeyed by sacred cows like Tompolo!

It is instructive, according to the WSG, that “President Jonathan, Tom Polo and the DG NIMASA are all of Ijaw extraction and we therefore see a script being acted out. Nigeria is the only country in the world where individuals – a rehabilitated militant for that matter-is awarded a contract to oversee the security of the coastline of a nation and with powers to import warships and sophisticated arms. WSG added further that since Tom Polo’s company got the contract to protect pipelines in the region “oil theft and bunkering have been on the increase”. Under the Jonathan administration Nigeria has seen all kinds of incredible decisions and this one really beats the imagination.

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