President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has made a u-turn and re-awarded Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, a pipeline surveillance contract which it cancelled in 2015 over allegations of corruption.
The former militant leader was the Commander of the defunct Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).
The deal is described as a renewal as Tompolo got a similar deal during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited agreed to engage Tompolo to end illegal bunkering, illegal refining and oil theft in Niger-Delta communities.
It is a reversal of the initial stance which saw the cancellation of the contract months after President Buhari assumed office.
A source close to Tompolo told The Nation that the current deal is worth over N4 billion monthly.
“Before the cancellation of his contract, the arrangements he put in place tackled illegal bunkering and increased production quota to over two million barrels per day.
“But the new government cancelled the contract, declared him wanted and he was later exonerated of all wrongdoings.
“They have realised the need to bring him back because currently, the country is losing over 500,000 barrels per day to illegal bunkering”, he said.
The new deal was brokered by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and top NNPC top officials, including the Group Executive Director, Upstream, Adokiye Tombomelye.
After the signing, Tompolo presided over a meeting in his Oporoza home in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State, on Wednesday.
In attendance were ex-presidents of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, Chris Ekiyor, Udengs Eradiri and Eric Omare
Others were priests of Egbesu, Ijaw religious organisation, led by Apostle Bodmas Kemepadei; leaders of Niger Delta youth groups, heads of cult groups.
The rest were former MEND commanders – Eris Paul, aka General Oguboss; Pius Wareyal, aka General Pius; Joshua Macaiver, Pastor Reuben Wilson, Young Shall Grow – and second phase “generals”.