By Balogun Kamilu Lekan
Tompolo real and full name is Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo. He is a retired militant, a warlord, and a businessman.
He was born on April 12, 1971, to Thomas Ekpemukpolo and Ewo Ekpemukpolo, into a royal family in Okerenoko in the traditional Gbaramatu Kingdom of Delta State.
Tompolo is currently aged 51 (as at 2022).
Tompolo Chief Priest
He is a traditionalist and chief priest of the Egbesu deity, which is the god of war in the Niger-Delta region.
Tompolo was the commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta(MEND), a guerilla group in the creek area of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
The group claims to fight for its people against the insensitivity of the government, for exploiting their oil and degrading their environment.
Tompolo attended Okepopo Primary School in Warri before proceeding to National Comprehensive College, Warri.
After completing his secondary education in 1993, he became a member of a resistance group in the Niger Delta.
He started his quasi-military career as an Ijaw soldier in 1997, during the bloody conflict between the Ijaw and the Itsekiri over the transfer of the Warri South-West Local Government Area’s administrative centre from Ogbe-Ijoh to Ogidigben in the Ijaw region by the then-head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha.
In one of his interviews, he explained how the Itsekiri tried to undermine Gbaramatu, a community which he hails from.
He said, “The Itsekiri people say they are the owners of Gbaramatu kingdom as a whole. From what I was told, we (Ijaw) are the original owners of the land in question, and our Itsekiri brothers came to meet us there.”
Later, in 1998, he joined the newly established Ijaw Youth Council and rose to the position of a group leader.
Tompolo eventually decided to align himself with the Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) after observing the advancements made by the Ijaw Youth Council.
He quickly attained the rank of a high commander and as a wealthy man, was able to provide MEND with the funding they required to fulfill their mission.
This gave him a pathway to the violent agitation against Shell, a multinational oil company in the Niger Delta.
The oil spillages, general environmental degradation, and non-development of the oil-producing areas by Shell and other oil companies in the region fueled his anger towards the government.
Between 2006 and 2009, Tompolo used a guirella approach with his agitation by bombing government facilities and pipelines, piracy, kidnapping expertraits, etc.
During that period, the Niger Delta’s creeks were overrun by militants driving speedboats armed with machine guns, making them deadly for both law enforcement and oil employees. In the midst of the uprising, militants cut Nigeria’s oil output in half.
Tompolo then began to face threats from the government, which led him to move his camp to Oporoza within the Gbaramutu kingdom.
He was declared wanted by the Nigerian Army for the murder of 11 soldiers. In an effort to arrest Tompolo, soldiers invaded his operations center. After a thorough search, they were unable to locate him, but they did find a large number of rifles, machine guns, Uzzi guns, Army mistin carriers, explosives, and gunboats.
When President Yar’Adua emerged, he declared the implementation of an amnesty program for the Niger Delta militants.
This led Tompolo and about 1500 of his comrades in arms to lay down their ammunition and embrace peace.
This marked the end of MEND and peace was restored in the region.
Tompolo kept his family away from public attention. He is reportedly married to Victoria Government Ekpemupolo.
The couple has a daughter – Mary Ekpemupolo.
Tompolo amassed lots of wealth during the amnesty program, and he’s been accused of living a flamboyant life at the expense of his people.
Sometime ago, he was reported to have acquired a LearJet 60SE. A jet that’s worth a whopping sum of $13.3 million
However, he was contracted by the Federal Government to provide maritime security through his firm, Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL). The project is worth $103.4 million and is expected to span a 10-year term that is extendable for two additional terms of five years.
Tompolo owns a foundation, the Tompolo Foundation, a philanthropic foundation responsible for providing humanitarian services to the people of the Niger Delta.
They offer free medical services, food, provision of educational materials, provision of relief materials for the victims of natural disasters, and many more.
Regardless of his personality, Tompolo is still an influential political figure in the Niger Delta.
Allegedly abandoned MEND struggle
Tompolo was accused of living a flambouyant life while abandoning struggles of MEND, but he debunked the allegation through his media aide.
In his defense, his aide said “Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) is still very much in the struggle to see that his people, the entire Niger Delta have a better and decent life. However, in the first place, did anybody sent him to do the struggle? It is nobody’s assignment. He started it by himself all for the love of his people. He is still on course. Just like I said nobody sent him in the first place for the person to say he has abandoned the work.
“People just used some misleading information from hearsays and some unethical media reports to judge issues. If Tompolo has that kind of wealth, my brother, his people would feel it. He is a generous man that is always eager and ready to help his people because he understands the living condition of the people of the Niger Delta.”
After giving up fighting, surrendering his arms, and leading his men to hand over their weapons, Tompolo in 2012 received at least six decommissioned Norwegian battleships, a Norwegian newspaper, Daglabet reported.
The most recent hardware was the KNM Horten, a fast-attack craft allegedly used for anti-piracy patrol in the Nigerian waters.
Daglabet reported that the sale was implemented through a shell maritime Security Company based in the United Kingdom, CAS Global.
CAS Global was used to evade a requirement by Norway that arms dealers obtain export license from their country’s foreign affairs ministry, the report adds.
Tompolo’s company, Global West Vessel Service handles maritime security issues for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
After the deal became public in December, the Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, claimed the vessels were purchased as part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy. He said the Navy has rearmed the vessels to enable it effectively carried out its anti-piracy patrol.
“As an arm of the government responsible for maritime safety, security and regulations amongst others, we work in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant security agencies to use their men and arms to patrol and provide safety of the country’s water ways, as mandated by the global body, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“It is the Navy that has fitted their guns on the vessels to aid their policing of the maritime domain,” he said.
Declared wanted by Buhari
Tompolo was declared wanted by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for 14 counts of money laundering and theft spanning between 2012 and 2015.
An arrest warrant was issued, and Tompolo has since been in hiding.
His accounts was frozen by the EFCC and several of his properties seized.
In 2020, Justice Ibrahim Buba of Federal High Court Lagos has discharged Tompolo over charges of N45.9bn fraud.
Fresh attacks in Niger Delta
Tompolo has also been accused of fresh attacks in the Niger Delta. He however, denied the allegation.
In a statement by his media aide, he said, “Tompolo distanced himself from the violence, condemning it as a “dastardly act” and pointing out that he would not have been able to get away with such an attack while under close government scrutiny.”
In October 2020, during the EndSARS protest, Tompolo was sighted in public again after his sudden disappearance from the public.
He was seen at the Egbesu Shrine in Oporozoa, Gbamaturu, Delta State, with other worshippers and friends having a good time.
Nothing has been heard about him again since then, as he’s been out of sight again.
The information in this article was curated from online sources. NewsWireNGR or its editorial team cannot independently verify all details.
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