There was panic in the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State in the early hours of Saturday as soldiers combed the community for ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, otherwise called Tompolo.
It was gathered that the fiercely-looking Joint Task Force operatives stormed the Oporoza community in the area with about five military gunboats around 1:30am.
It was further gathered that the security operatives laid siege to the Guest House of the ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
A source who spoke with one of our correspondents said the security operatives carted away documents and other valuable items from Tompolo’s Guest House.
The source said, “Officers of the JTF invaded Gbaramatu community in the early hours of Saturday. The soldiers raided the Oporoza Guest House, Gbaramatu. It was also was raided in 2009.
“They also raided the Tompolo foundation where they apprehended some of the children and were asking them for directives on how to get the wanted former MEND leader. The whole place was cordoned off.”
It was learnt that members of the Government Advocacy Committee against Pipeline Vandalism inaugurated by the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, travelled to Abuja since Thursday to hold private talks with security agencies on how to avoid confrontation in the plan to halt the continued destruction of the nation’s pipelines by the militants.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed fears that Saturday’s raid of the Delta community could result in the loss of confidence in the committee’s efforts to prevail on the youth in the region to halt the attacks on the oil facilities.
Tompolo has been fingered as spearheading the new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, which has been carrying out series of attacks on oil facilities across the Niger Delta region in the last few days.
Although, Tompolo, who is from Oporoza, has consistently denied any link with the group, attacks on oil facilities have gone unabated since a federal court in Lagos issued warrant of arrest against him over corruption charges.
A prominent Gbaramatu chief and head of Oporoza community identified as Aititi alias Burn, was said to have been injured when he tried to prevent the soldiers from entering his house.
Spokesman of the kingdom, Godspower Gbenekama, also confirmed the raid of the community to one of our correspondents, adding that there were reports of sporadic shooting in the community with many residents injured.
He said, “The soldiers arrested several youths. As of 9:30am on Saturday, there was still shooting in the community. We neither have members of the Niger Delta Avengers nor Tompolo in our communities.’’
Also, Spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Eric Osare, asked the Federal Government to leave Gbaramatu community alone.
Omare, who spoke with newsmen on the telephone, said the soldiers arrested some youths in the community.
The spokesman of the JTF, Col. Isa Ado, and his NNS Delta counterpart, Lieutenant Lamu, did not pick the several calls made to their telephone lines. -nigerianeye