In the last few months, President Buhari’s anti-corruption war appears to have intensified in Nigeria, targeting more high profile individuals. In parallel to the latest investigation into the former National Security Adviser, the administration is set to take on Government ‘Tompolo’ Ekpemupolo, a former Niger Delta militant leader. Since putting down his weapons, he has become a major government contractor, especially under the Goodluck Jonathan administration. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on 11 December that it will declare Tompolo as being wanted if he fails to appear before the commission on 17 December.
Tompolo has been invited to clarify allegations concerning the sale of landed properties worth US$65 million to the previous administration, which the EFCC is insinuating may have been inflated. Tompolo’s company, Global Fleet West Africa, has the contract for protecting Nigeria’s maritime borders against oil thieves.
In a response to the EFCC’s threat on 12 December, Tompolo accused the commission of persecuting him because of his refusal to join the governing APC, and his campaign for the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in Bayelsa State during the 5 December governorship elections.
Tompolo disclosed that the EFCC has ordered his bank accounts to be frozen and has refused to appear in court even after he filed a case to challenge the EFCC action. He also subtly warned that the EFCC should not do anything that will push the country back into an era of militancy noting that ‘those who think they can push us to war must rethink the necessity of such a war.’ Tompolo had previously been declared wanted in 2008, when his militant group allegedly killed 11 soldiers. He was later granted amnesty and given a lucrative contract worth US$103 million to stop oil thieves, which did not really achieve the desired results.
He has since become a key influence in Niger Delta politics and there may be security and economic implications for crude oil production if the government moves against him. But in taking this action, the state may also want to show that no one is above the law and therefore it would not be entirely surprising if Tompolo is arrested and detained over the allegations of being used as a conduit for siphoning public funds.