President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a clear statement to members of the Nigerian Army: catch Tompolo, dead or alive for an alleged link to Niger Delta avengers.
Following that command, the military deployed personnel, four warships, jet fighters, surveillance aircraft and 95 gunboats in Delta and Bayelsa states.
The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai stated that the reason for the invasion was that militants had killed scores of Nigerian soldiers and vowed to crush them.
IN a swift reaction, Niger Delta Avengers corroborated Burutai’s story stating that 50 soldiers indeed died at the creeks because the Nigerian Army deployed soldiers without amphibious training.
They further stated that they, NDA were not complicit to the death of the soldiers and “If not for the help of local fishermen, the death toll would have been up to 100.”
In what seem like a feat of rage, the Nigerian Army laid a six-day siege on Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State. Their intent was capture Tompolo.
Following a tipoff, the Nigerian Army invaded Oporoza in a bid to arrest Tompolo who is alleged to be holed up with members of the Niger Delta Avengers. They found neither him nor his father, who had also escaped from the community.
The mission was a complete failure.
To stamp their presence in Oporoza, the Niger Delta Avengers blew up the Forcados Export Line belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company at about 3.00 am yesterday.
After searching in futility, the Nigerian Army began withdrawing from Oporoza. Confirming the withdrawal, Chief Gbenekama stated that “They are leaving as I am talking to you now.
“I thank God that the military have seen with their eyes what we have been telling them since, that the people of Gbaramatu kingdom are not Niger Delta Avengers, we do not know them and we do not wish to know them.”
“They came here looking for Tompolo, I said it before that Tompolo is our son, but since the EFCC declared him wanted, we have not seen him. He had left Gbaramatu kingdom.
Withdrawal of the military is not unconnected with the meeting President Muhammadu Buhari had with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa yesterday (Friday).
According to a reliable source, President Buhari asked Goodluck Jonathan to speak to elders in the region to calm Niger Delta Avengers. Goodluck Jonathan had reportedly demanded that the Nigerian military should withdraw first.