Former militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, yesterday explained why he won’t honour the invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying the move was an unnecessary and face-saving effort at brinkmanship.
The EFCC had in a letter of invitation to Tompolo, informed him to make himself available at its Lagos office on Thursday, December 17 over an alleged dubious land deal involving him and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to the tune of N13 billion.
The anti-graft agency had warned that failure to honour this latest invitation would lead to his being declared wanted.
But the former militant leader and traditional title holder of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State, accused the EFCC of rushing to serve him an invitation letter as a cover-up for its own refusal to show up in a court case he instituted against the commission.
Tompolo, who denied that he was in hiding or on the run as a result of the threat to declare him wanted, also described the move as a ploy to intimidate and witch-hunt him because of his refusal to back the All Progressives Congress candidate in the stalemated Bayelsa State governorship election, Chief Timipre Sylva.
He said: “I know why they are after me. It is not the alleged multi-billion naira property transaction. After all, it went through due process and was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
“And as such if there are any questions to answer, it is the people at the FEC, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Federal Ministry of Lands and Survey, Federal Ministry of Transport, NIMASA, etc who approved the transaction that should be answering such questions.
“The real reason this APC-led government is after me is that I bluntly refused to join APC and to support their Governorship candidate in Bayelsa State. We cannot all be in APC. Our people have always believed in the Nigerian project and had always hoped to join hands with this administration to move this project forward, but the conditions being attached are not acceptable. I insist on believing in the Nigerian project unconditionally!
“The impression being conveyed is that I was invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and I failed to honour the invitation or even respond by letter to the invitation”.
Tompolo said his lawyers’ reply explaining why he wouldn’t honour EFCC’s invitation was conveyed to the EFCC on December 3, adding, “I have proof of delivery from the courier company”.
He, however, expressed surprise that the EFCC, which ordinarily should be a reputable institution, could stoop so low as to lie to Nigerians that he refused to honour its invitation, insisting: “my Solicitor’s letter indicated I am already in court with the EFCC.
“EFCC had been served with the court processes since 20th of October 2015 but they refused to attend court on several occasions, or to file any court papers, only to appear for the first time on 30th November 2015 without filing any court papers. They even asked for the matter to be adjourned to 17th December 2015, the date they are now inviting me to appear before them.
“So the attempt to harass me by their reminder of 9th December 2015, which was leaked to the media on the 10th of December 2015 , the same day as it was delivered to my house in Warri is an unnecessary and face saving effort at brinksmanship.
“As a full blooded Ijaw man and citizen of Nigeria, I have done everything in my power to follow the laws of Nigeria. Since the amnesty declared in 2009 by late President Yar’ Adua I have strained myself to ensure that we all live in peace in this country. Those who think they can push us to war must rethink the necessity of such a war.
“They froze our business accounts since August 4th 2015, but we have not quarrelled with anybody. We sued them to court, they refused to come to court. Now they are threatening to declare me wanted”.
Tompolo vowed that he would not be intimidated, adding, “The threat to declare me wanted is an unnecessary attempt to heat up the polity. I will go about my daily business, usual”.
Sounding what appeared to be a note of warning to the authorities, Tompolo said the same right APC chieftains from Sokoto, Lagos or Katsina have to campaign in Bayelsa is the same he, as a “full blooded” Ijaw man, has to campaign for the candidate of his choice in Bayelsa.
On the forthcoming supplementary polls in Bayelsa, the ex-militant leader insisted that the will of the people must prevail and no attempt should be made to force its outcome.
“We have kept faith with our promise to Nigeria, we expect no less from this country. So if anyone tells you that Tompolo is on the run, tell him Tompolo is not going anywhere”, he concluded.