Tension pervaded the waterways of the oil-rich Niger Delta region yesterday, when a company of soldiers took over the palatial guesthouse of ex-Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, in Gbaramatu Kingdom, restricting the movement of the paramount ruler to his palace.
Owing to the invasion, the community looked like a ghost town, even as it was learnt that institutions providing essential services, including health facilities, schools and the jetty from which many businesses in the area are transacted, were deserted in order to avoid confrontation with the troops.
Tompolo has repeatedly denied stoking the return of violent agitations in the region, but many believe that the ex-militant cannot extricate himself from the ongoing crisis, which has cut Nigeria’s oil exports by about 50 per cent.
The growing unease in Oporoza, Gbaramatu, Tompolo’s hometown, coincided with the visit yesterday of the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Office, Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), who told the embattled king, William Ogoba Oboro Gbaraun II, (Akatakpe) Agadagba, that the federal government was deeply worried about the renewed violent activities of the militants.
Meanwhile, Tompolo’s father narrowly escaped arrest yesterday after heavily armed soldiers invaded Kurutie community, Gbaramatu in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State in search of members of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
Security sources saidt the soldiers swooped on Kurutie also known as “Little London” in six gunboats at about 4.30 am and went straight to the residence of Tompolo’s father but did not meet him.
“They came in the early hours, apparently believing he will be in bed or his son hiding there. They broke in and met an empty house.
“The residents were asleep when they came, but many who were roused from sleep by the sound of gunboats scampered into the bush,” the security source disclosed.