Norway Sells Arms To Millionaire Nigerian Warlord
Six decommissioned Norwegian warships sold to former rebel leader and current politician Government Ekpemupolo.
Government Ekpemupolo, once an illegal rebel leader in the Niger Delta, is now a prominent Nigerian businessman who owns a total of seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships.
Ekpemupolo holds six Norwegian fast-speed Hauk-class guided missile boats, now re-armed with new weaponry, according to reports in the Norwegian newspaper “Dagbladet.” His most recent purchase is that of the KNM Horten, a fast-attack craft now allegedly engaged in piracy in the seas off Nigeria.
And Ekpemupolo has a history of violence. Now one of the wealthiest men in Nigeria, he became rich by illegally bunkering oil from nationally owned pipelines in the Niger Delta, and by leading a rebellious faction there.
How was such a man allowed to acquire warships from Norway?
The export of arms from Norway requires an export license from that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The ships were first sold to CAS Global, a British security company that has such a license. Ekpemupolo bought the ships from the British company.
Government Ekpemupolo now controls the Global West Vessel Service, a privately owned contractor for maritime security for the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency.
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The seven Norwegian ships are now part of the company’s maritime fleet, allegedly acting as pirates while patrolling for the Nigerian government, the newspaper reports.
From Rebel to government contractor
In May 2009, the commander of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, declared Government Ekpemupolo “the most wanted man in Nigeria.” In the Delta region, he made his own law with his own army.
In 2009, he surrendered to the Nigerian government and shook hands with then president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, receiving full amnesty for himself and his around 1.500 men.
Today he is an important business partner with the very government that, only five years ago, considered him a criminal.
But he is reportedly still responsible for violence. As late as in November this year he was widely reported as masterminding the abduction and beating of 14 journalists in the Niger delta.
Norway defends weapons sale
The head of communications at the Norwegian State Department Frode O. Andersen defended the arms sale. He told the “Dagbladet” on Friday: “As far as we can see, the export of KNM Horten has followed correct procedure and terms of export to Great Britain. The re-export from Great Britain to Nigeria is a question to be handled solely by British export control authorities.”
Lloyds List records show that the ship, which was sold to the U.K. company in 2012, was recorded as working for a fishery.
www.aa.com.tr/en – Ankara
Listed as purchased 9/2013 from Norwegian Government by UK company CAS Global Ltd and, as you note, recently delivered to Ramsgate under UK flag.
CAS Global is majority-owned by Stuart Macgregor, and with a strong Nigerian connections through CAS Nautico. Could be for fishery or anti-piracy operations in West Africa.