The pioneer chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Ahmed Tijani Ramalan, has disclosed that the agency pays the sum of N1.5bn monthly to the ex-militant leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Mr. Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, to protect the nation’s maritime areas.
Dr Ramalan, however, lamented that despite such gesture, the country still loses over 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the nation’s shores.
The former NIMASA chairman, who revealed this to LEADERSHIP in an interview in Kaduna, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel the contract given to the ex-militant by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said, “Over 400, 000 barrels of crude oil are being stolen daily from our shores under President Jonathan; yet we had a government that has the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the government of Jonathan decides to hand over the security of our maritime waters to Tompolo at a very exorbitant amount of money.
“And these same people that are given the job of our maritime security are the ones that are collaborating with the international shipping companies to steal our oil.”
According to him, one of the ways to help the country’s economy to bounce back is to revoke Tompolo’s contract.
“And if Buhari does not do so, we will be the first to start attacking him. There is no basis to give that kind of billion naira job to ex-militants,” he declared.
Making further clarification on how long the payment has been going on, Ramalan said it started “sometime after 2011 when Jonathan won his election and since then the payment has been on.
“I was the pioneer chairman of NIMASA, and NIMASA is the one funding the contract given to Tompolo. This is a guy that is collecting about N1.5bn every month and yet our Armed Forces are not well funded. So, we call on the president to discard such contract.”
He further stated that Buhari’s strong character and honesty would help him to lead country well.
“We supported President Buhari’s presidency because we believe that the country needs a strong leadership. The insecurity and economic problem that we are having in the country today is because of lack of a strong and quality leadership,” he said.
“We believe the country needs a leader that is not corrupt, because the issue of corruption in the country has led the country to its knees.
“The country would have gone down if the administration of Jonathan was allowed to continue. For us, we believe that having a new leader is what the country needs because of the massive corruption. We believe in President Buhari; we believe there is hope in having him as the president.”
He also expressed confidence in Buhari’s ability to solve the problem of insecurity in the country.
Tompolo keeps mum
Attempt by LEADERSHIP to get clarification on the allegation from Mr. Government Ekpemupolo wasn’t successful. Initial calls made to his spokesperson, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo went unanswered, likewise SMS but he later replied to an SMS sent to him saying “I will get across to my boss.” He never got back again to LEADERSHIP up to the time of going to press when several calls around 11:27pm where again made to him.
Ex-Militants To PMB: Review Oil Pipeline Surveillance Contract
Some ex Niger Delta militants have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to review the multi-million dollar oil pipeline security contract awarded to ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemukpolo, alias Tompolo and other ex-militants by the past administration.
Coming under the aegis of The National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-agitators led by its national president, Israel Akpodoro, they made the call yesterday in a press conference held in Abuja.
In 2012, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration signed a $103 million deal with Global West Vessel Specialist Agency Ltd, a company linked to Tompolo. The deal was to patrol Nigeria’s waterways to stop piracy and oil theft.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the ex-militants, Akpodoro also called on Buhari to review the Niger Delta amnesty programme, citing “fraud” and “selective treatment” in the federal government rehabilitation programme.
He, however, cautioned Buhari against scrapping the Niger Delta amnesty programmme.
The ex-militants also stated that Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election because the exercise was a “free and fair” contest.
“We boldly endorsed Buhari before the 2015 presidential election. We were not sponsored. We faced threats,” the ex-militants stated, while declaring continuous support for the Buhari administration.