Ijaw elders have said that it is not their responsiblity to fish out Tompolo for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or Joint Task Force, stating that they are not security agents.
Speaking to Vanguard, two Ijaw leaders- Chairman, Ijaw (Izon) Okosu –Otu (Ijaw Council of Elders), Delta State, Chief Bare Etolor and Chief Godspower Gbenekame, shared the same sentiments- that it was beyond their power to turn Tompolo in.
Chief Etolor said: “It is unfair for the Federal Government to ask Ijaw communities to handover suspects that carried out the bombing because we do not know them. In addition, I do not see how anybody expects us to handover Tompolo to security agencies because we do not have the power to do that, except they want to humiliate us.”
“It is unfortunate that the Presidency wants to handle the matter from this angle. Which of the Northern elders did they tell to produce the Boko Haram leaders that are bombing in their areas. So, why are they telling us to handover people who bombed pipelines here?
“If they know the person that did it and ask us to help produce the person and we see him, we can assist with information if we have any. How can anybody say Ijaw leaders should handover suspects? We do not know who did it.
“It is not right. Even if they tell us the person, we do not have arms to arrest anybody. What they are doing is to make us not to have confidence in this government. What power do we have over armed militants? We can only talk to them as elders, not arrest them with guns.
“I am not supporting criminality. In fact, anybody among us, the Ijaw elders, can be a victim anytime. It is difficult for us to produce Tompolo. If they cannot see him with all their intelligence, where do they expect us to see him? I have not even seen Tompolo myself for ages.”
Similarly, Chief Gbenekame said: “How can you say we should hand over Tompolo to the EFCC, are we security agents? If he had dealings with EFCC, they should arrest him. Why are they calling Gbaramatu elders?
“What I know is that Tompolo made many enemies when he worked for the Federal Government to guard the pipelines. He burnt illegal refineries, razed boats and these people are not happy. He has been a partner to the government all this while, that is why we called for a political solution to the matter.”
Also, the Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria and Ijaw People’s Development Initiative said, “The people of Niger Delta and the ljaw in particular are not at war with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. However, the ljaw will never sacrifice their bravest to satisfy the quest for neo-colonialism. When the moment comes, we shall stand with Tompolo.
“We believe that what the Federal Government wants to do is a repeat of what the Russians did to Poland during World War II, kill the bravest of their braves, the rest is history. We wish to inform President Buhari that in the hearts and minds of every Niger Deltan lies an embryonic Tompolo waiting to hatch.
“We call on President Buhari not to be deceived by a few pipelines surveillance contract seekers. There was Judea, yet Christ resurrected from the dead. There were traitors, yet Allah protected Prophet Mohammed in the cave with a cob web when people led his enemies to capture him.
“It may interest you to know that Tompolo is a strong member of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, even in defeat. Unlike some elements of the party from our region that are bread and butter members. Tompolo alleged that the APC- led government persuaded him to decamp to its fold. The party until date, did not refute his assertion.
“Suddenly, the EFCC froze the bank account of Global West Vessels Limited. The management of the company initiated an action against EFCC in court. The agency bluntly refused to file a defence, only for the agency to file charges against him in another Federal High Court.
“The question we will like to ask is: Is Tompolo the chief executive or the Managing Director of Global West Vessels Limited? Assuming, for the purpose of argument, that Global Vessels Limited committed financial crime, is Tompolo the alter ego of the company? The EFCC invitation and subsequent harassment and persecution of Tompolo goes beyond what meets the eye.”