Rights group, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, has said former General Officer Commanding, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, acquitted of fraud charges by Federal High Court, Lagos, last week, had restless nights in the forest, where he survived for four years, forsaken by his friends.

IPDI, in a statement by the Board of Trustees, BOT, Chairman, Mr. Cletus Itari, applauding the ex-militant leader for his doggedness, asserted that “the last four years were sad for him.

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“Many of Tompolo’s friends abandoned him; some of his brothers deserted him and confidantes ran away.

“Many thought his end had come; his enemies were happy when he was declared wanted for the second time. He lived in the forest for the past four years without a night’s sleep.

“A selfless man was crucified for nothing. When we say the man was innocent, people refused to listen, but now, every eye has seen.

“He was sold out for peanut by his brothers like Joseph’s brothers did in the Bible. They wanted him dead because they see him as a threat. Some are so envious of his position in life and others jealous of his prominence.

Not surprised court discharged him

“As a group, we salute High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, aka, Tompolo, on his victory at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

“He was witch-hunted and unlawfully persecuted. We knew the EFCC 40-count charge levied against him were frivolous and baseless and were only meant to intimidate him. These were the reasons we maintained our support for him.

“The dismissal of the charges against Tompolo does not come as a surprise to IPDI. It only shows that Nigerian government cannot be trusted.

“His victory is a victory for all Ijaw people and Niger Deltans. But it is a pity that an innocent man could be humiliated for this long time.

IPDI officials arrested, hunted over Tompolo

“IPDI and few others stood behind him, which he described as his new friends in one of his interviews with Vanguard in 2016.

“Truly, we became his new friend and we never shifted ground for any government agent to continue its blackmail. We were hunted for standing with Tompolo. We ran from pillar to post, yet we never gave up.

“The intimidation was severe, but IPDI’s voice became louder. Tompolo was declared wanted for the second time. The ancient Gbaramatu Kingdom was invaded several times.

“Tompolo’s father High Chief Thomas Ekpemupolo was brutalised by the Nigerian Military and thereafter, his leg was amputated and he died.

“Our former spokesperson, Comrade Daniel Ezekiel, was arrested and detained for one year and five months. Our President, Ozobo Austin, narrowly escaped arrest and other Tompolo’s close allies were arrested.

“Tompolo was framed up as a member of Niger Delta Avengers and the military became brutal and lawless. IPDI and few others standing with Tompolo were declared wanted.

“We suffered in our resolve to stand with Tompolo. All these were caused by the personal interest of few friends and brothers of the innocent man, though we have been vindicated by his all-round victory declared by the judiciary.”

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