(By The Paradigm, Lagos),
More details have emerged into how former Nigerian Warlord and Militant, Government “Tompolo” Ekpemupolo acquired at least, seven warships from the Norwegian Armed Forces. Of interest in the new revelations is the role played by two new generation Nigerian banks.
Mid-last year, the duo of Skye Bank and Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), masquerading for Ex militant Tompolo, visited Norway to inspect the warship to be purchased by the warlord.
Before the money could be wired and transactions completed, the bank needed to be sure of the loans they were advancing to Mr. Tompolo. But competent sources who know of the transaction revealed the visit was sponsored by Tompolo’s company Global West Vessel Specialist (GWVS), so his agent (the banks), could give him more detailed information about the weapons to be acquired. (This can be collaborated by the letter attached below).
Government “Tompolo” Ekpemupolo has a contract for hunting pirates and tax collection on behalf of the Nigerian Maritime Administration And Safety Agency popularly called NIMASA . As a former commander of the feared rebel guerrillas MEND, he knows the enemy well. He has been behind kidnappings, robberies, hijackings and bloody attacks on oil installations and the international offshore operations in Nigeria. He runs a private Navy on behalf of the Nigerian government to secure Nigerian water space.
Under his leadership, MEND also attacked and hijacked the Norwegian oil rig Bulford Dolphin and kidnapped Norwegians from the Norwegian supply vessel “Northern Comrade”. Now warlord equipped with Norwegian modernized, fast, powerful and manoeuvrable naval vessels, which gives him an edge against the competition in one of the most lawless waters.
Dagbladet Visited Navy Headquarters
In Norway, neither defense or Foreign Affairs (MFA) explain how at least ten Norwegian naval vessels have ended up in the hands of paramilitary groups in West Africa. They have denied any knowledge of the African security companies that now leads the ships.
But Dagbladet can now reveal that the military itself has invited representatives of both warlord and other West African paramilitary to Norway to inspect the naval vessels they were buying. To obtain a visa to the representatives, has the Defence Logistics Organisation (FLO), which is behind the sales, engaged the Norwegian Embassy in Nigeria.
Dagbladet has received confirmation from several key sources that one or more representatives of “an African buyer” guested Navy Headquarters Haakonsvern Bergen to look at the six missile torpedo boats KNM “Eaters”, “Geir”, “Jo”, “Stegg” “oystercatcher “and” Falk “. The visit occurred before the boats were towed to Horten to be built in the summer of 2012. The purchase contract was signed by the British company CAS Global. Price tag: NOK 27.6 million (N674,3m).
Defence Logistics Organisation has today, no documents confirming the visit. The officer in charge will not talk to Dagbladet. Navy will not say who they let into the largest naval base. They believe it is a state secret.
Painted in war lord colors
After the visit in August 2012, both FLO and UD were warned by British customs and intelligence authorities against selling missile torpedo boats to the British company CAS Global. British authorities had strong suspicions that it was only a shell company, and that the real buyer was the Nigerian warlord Tompolo and his security company Global West Vessel Specialist (GWVS).
CAS Global and Defence Logistics Organisation denied that there was any such coupling and assured that the ships would be used civilian and have British owners, the British crew on board, will sail under the British flag and follow British law. To be sure that the ships really were registered in the UK and subject to UK law, intelligence authorities asked UD and FLO to deliver boats directly to England and notify Customs. It did not work.
Now, the ships have been painted in exactly the same colors as the rest coastguard fleet warlord Tompolo operates: Blue hull with white superstructure. The reconstruction was performed by Horten Ship Repairs on Karljohansvern in Horten.
In February and March 2013, CAS Global got the delivery of the first three boats in Horten. But on May 1, they turned up in the Nigerian port city of Lagos and was presented as warlord Tompolos acquisitions “gunboats” instead of the UK which ought to be its final destination. In November the same year, the last three boats purchased where delivered by a cargo ship in Horten, and transported to Nigeria.
On Christmas day in 2013, they started their new career as paramilitary gunboats in West Africa. They received no registration in the UK and Customs were never notified.
Invited Warlord Representatives
CAS Global also bought the large support KNM ‘Horten’ of the Armed Forces. In May 2013, the Norwegian Armed Forces (FLO) invited two Nigerian bankers to Karljohansvern Horten to inspect the ship and finalize the sale. Another letter attached shows the invitation sent to the visa section in the Norwegian Embassy in Abuja. It emerged that the bank that financed the acquisition does not represent CAS Global, but Tompolo’s security company Global West Vessel Specialist.
“Mr. XX and Mr. YY (names remain anonymous) are both representatives of Skye Bank PLC, a financial institution in Nigeria. They act on behalf of Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd, a company involved in the aforementioned trade,” says the invitation from FLO.
Global West Vessel Specialist is the same company British authorities warned about,but the Norway Defence Authority claimed that had no knowledge of such warning and still carried out the sales.
The former Norwegian coastguard vessel KV Titran currently operates out of the Nigerian port city Port Harcourt. According Norwegian Defense Sources, the ship was sold to the South African warship exporter Nautic Africa in December 2013.
However, the ship has now turned up in the waters of the Niger Delta, performing armed security mission for a paramilitary company in West Africa.
The Norway Armed Forces in December 2013, invited three bank representatives from Nigeria to finalize the sale of KV Titran. They represented the current owner, the Nigerian security company Omak Maritime.
“Defence Logistics Organisation FLO confirms that the intention is to dispose coastguard vessel KV Titran. Sales Message and delivery protocol will be signed and given to Guaranty Trust Bank / Omak Maritime Limited Horten (…)” reads the invitation.
Export Control in the Ministry were never informed that the buyer was a South African arms exporter, and customs declarations states that the ship going is to the company CAS Global in England. A customs declarations to England arouses far less attention by customs than customs declarations to South Africa, Dagbladet was told.
In March 16 this year, KV Titran left Horten, bound for Antwerp in the Netherlands. But on May 5, the ship docked in Lagos. In July, it began its first armed patrol duty Omak Maritime outside Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
Enormous sums of money
Warlord Tompolo has received over 2 billion dollars from the Nigerian government to hunt for his former comrades. He is now one of Nigeria’s richest men, and has just bought a new private jet. The contract with the authorities and the Norwegian ships is one of scandal cases that plague President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.
The former Norwegian missile torpedo boats have reinforcements in the hull to withstand armament with heavier weapons, such as Oerlikon cannons. They can accommodate a larger number of armed soldiers, and are built for war in rough waters. The vessels were delivered from the military with the latest in civilian radars, communications and satellite technology.
To arm them again was not a big problem. As one of Nigeria’s most notorious warlords Tompolo even good access to machine guns, machine guns and fighters on deck.
More information and documents sourced from Dagbladet.
Originally published in TheParadigm