Soldiers yesterday stormed Kurutie, Warri South West Council, Delta State in search of the wanted former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpomupolo, alias Tompolo, and members of the Niger Delta Avengers.
It was learnt that the soldiers didn’t meet 72-year old Thomas Ekpemupolo, the ex-MEND leader’s father at home, but met Tompolo’s aged mother, Ewo Ekpemupolo.
Eyewitness report said the soldiers allegedly detained his mother briefly in a gunboat where she was questioned on the whereabouts of her son and was later set free.
According to the spokesman of the Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekema, the soldiers, while quizzing Tompolo’s mother allegedly broke into the rooms and looted the place of valuables.
However, the Delta State Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Major Monday Azanku, dismissed the allegations in an interview, declaring that the soldiers never engaged in such criminality at Kurutie, Oporoza or Okerenkoko, as being alleged.
Major Azanku said, “Soldiers did not loot anything. It’s sheer propaganda, the sacred creed of the Army is: wherever you go to fight you don’t carry anything for your personal benefit or else you don’t come back. The soldiers involved in the mission have a commander. It is sheer propaganda.”
The army chief said the operation was launched to prevent and apprehend pipeline vandals and pirates and that it had been very successful as more explosives and other gadgets used in blowing up pipelines were recovered.
Meanwhile, as the military combs the Niger Delta creeks for the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in fighter jets, the Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, yesterday assured that the campaign against vandals destroying oil infrastructure in the South South region of the country would be done ‘rationally.’
Rear Admiral Garba, who spoke with our correspondent in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, maintained that those disturbing the peace of the region were a small percentage of the good people, assuring that those who are innocent should go about their duties without fear.
This is coming as the President of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Udengs Eradiri, has raised the alarm over attempts by the military to intimidate and destroy Ijaw lands in the name of searching for the Avengers
Eradiri, who spoke with newsmen on the development urged military authorities to use intelligence in apprehending those responsible for the bombing of pipelines so they do not end up destroying communities and killing innocent people.