Tompolo’s warships acquisition illegal, says Sagay
A constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, says the acquisition of seven warships by Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo, is illegal and poses a threat to the nation’s security.
Sagay, who condemned the development in a statement on Tuesday, said the Nigerian constitution did not approve of any individual carrying out security duties on the Nigerian waters except the country’s Armed Forces.
The statement came a few weeks after Tompolo allegedly kidnapped seven journalists
He said, “The news of the recent acquisition by Tompolo’s Company, Global West Vessel Service of seven war vessels, is extremely disturbing and destabilising. Given the volatile nature of Warri/Benin Rivers Area, and the overbearing violence of the Ijaw against the Itsekiri in particular, this is a sinister and dangerous development.
“There is no provision in the Nigerian law that permits the engagement of private persons and outfits to carry arms and engage in security operations on the Nigerian waters. This duty is the exclusive responsibility of the Nigerian Navy. Section 3 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap. A 20 of the 2004 Laws of Nigeria provides that the Armed Forces shall be charged with the defence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by land, sea and air and such other duties as the National Assembly may, from time to time, prescribe or direct by an Act.
“Notwithstanding the generality of the provisions of subsection (3) of this section – the Navy shall, in particular, be further charged with – (i) enforcing and assisting in coordinating the enforcement of all customs, laws, including anti-bunkering, fishery and immigration laws of Nigeria at sea (ii) enforcing and assisting in co-coordinating the enforcement of national and international maritime laws ascribed or acceded to by Nigeria.”
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government and security agencies not to take the matter lightly, describing it as a blatant illegality.
“Therefore the present situation in which Mr. Government Ekpemupolo has been allowed to bring in a naval fleet into the Western Delta area of Nigeria constitutes not only a threat to peace in that area, but also a blatant illegality,” he said.
Norway Defends Sale Of Warships To Tompolo
The Norwegian government says it cannot be held responsible for the six decommissioned Norwegian warships sold to ex-militant Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, reports TheCable.
In all, Tompolo, a former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), owns seven decommissioned Norwegian battleships, his most recent acquisition being the KNM Horten, a fast-attack craft now allegedly engaged in piracy off Nigerian seas.
The export of arms from Norway requires an export licence from that country’s ministry of foreign affairs.
The ships were first sold to CAS Global, a British security company that has such licence, and Ekpemupolo bought the ships from the British company.
Questions have been asked on why a man who was recently fingered in the kidnap of 14 journalists would have access to Norway’s arms, but Frode Anderson, head of communications at the Norwegian State Department, has defended the arms sale.
“As far as we can see, the export of KNM Horten has followed correct procedure and terms of export to Great Britain,” Anderson told the Dagbladet.
“The re-export from Great Britain to Nigeria is a question to be handled solely by British export control authorities.”
KNM Horten was sold to the UK company in 2012, recorded as working for a fishery.
Tompolo now controls the Global West Vessel Service, a privately-owned contractor for maritime security for the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency, while the seven Norwegian ships are now part of the company’s maritime fleet, allegedly acting as pirates while patrolling for the Nigerian government.
Once declared “the most wanted man in Nigeria” in 2009 during the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Tompolo, now enjoys close relationship with the Jonathan government.