Tompolo surrenders arms amid tears
From EMMANUEL OGOIGBE Warri
Monday, October 5, 2009
Photo: Sun News Publishing
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Ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolor, a.k.a Tompolo broke down in tears on Sunday in Oporoza, Delta State, as he surrendered a large cache of arms and ammunition to the Federal Government.
Tompolo who had earlier in Abuja on Saturday embraced government’s amnesty deal for militants betrayed emotions at the arms while speaking at the surrendering ceremony witnessed by Defence Minister, Maj-General Godwin Abbe (retd), Delta State Governor Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Presidential Adviser ion Niger Delta, Chief Timi Alaibe and the Amnesty package coordinator, Air Vice Marshal O. Olarire.
“I was compelled to drop weapons, this is my time and I will not abandon my people and this noble cause which I believe in. No doubt I have done my bit and I plead with all of you to continue with this struggle,” said that militant leader.
“It is a pity that some Ijaw youths betrayed and wanted to kill me. I am shocked that some of these people tried all within their power to thwart my effort, but I want to warn that they should not joke with the word and power of God,” the ex-warlord said amid tears.
While pleading for patience Chief Ekpemukpolo urged his people to give the Federal Government a chance to fulfill its promises to develop the region, assuring that all the buildings destroyed during the crisis would be re-built.
“I am not rich as people may tend to believe because I am yet to complete even my house in Warri, but I will continue to work for the good of my people,” said Tompolo, amid sobs which drew wailing from the crowd.
Tompolo told his boys to abhor sea piracy, pipeline vandalism and all forms of violence that will rather disrupt the peace process.
Among the items surrendered were GMG - six, AK47 – 14, FN – 71, G3 – 24, RPG – six, GMPG – five, RPGB – six.
Others are large boxes of arms ammunition, cartridges, heaps of dynamites, tear gas canisters, thunder flag and other items, which were as high as a mountain.
Speaking on the occasion, the defence minister restated Federal Government’s desire to develop the Niger – Delta, but warned that militancy would no longer be tolerated.
Abbe, who unveiled President Umar Yar’ Adua’s package for the battered region, stressed that government would not extend the presidential amnesty programme beyond 12 midnight on Sunday as effort was made to integrate their displaced war victims and the militants.
The minister, who was impressed by the huge turnout of people and a large cache of arms and ammunitions commended Tompolo for ensuring that the event was a success.
“This is no doubt a dream come through and I do know that this was done with a lot of courage, enthusiasm, patriotism and selflessness for peace to reign,” said Gen. Abbe.
“Government is ready now to develop the Niger-Delta but I want to plead to make this harmony to reign to make this heart warming peace process to be a reality,” the defence minister said amid thunderous ovation from hundreds of people that witnessed the historic event.
He said that all the militant leaders would soon meet with the presidential committee on amnesty to chart a way forward and integrate those of them who were ready to work or learn one trade or another or even going back to school.
“Time has come for us to sit and proffer solution on how permanent peace could be restored in the area. There is no other option to peace, hence we should all work and sustain the peace process,” stressed the minister.
Abbe commended Governor. Uduaghan and other members of the committee for ensuring that the amnesty was a success.