Mass arrests as soldiers invade Gbaramutu Kingdom, Delta State, in search of Tompolo
Soldiers in the early hours of Saturday invaded Oporoza, a settlement in Gbaramatu kingdom of Delta State and effected many arrests as they ratchet efforts to apprehend former militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo hails from the community.
Tompolo is currently in hiding and on trial by the Nigerian Government for alleged fraud and is a prime suspect in the upsurge in militancy in the Niger Delta region..
Reports cites a resident in the area who spoke from a hideout as saying that the invasion took place at about 1:52 a.m.
A prominent Gbaramatu chief and head of Oporoza community identified as Aititi alias Burn, was said to have been injured when he tried to prevent the soldiers from entering his house.
Spokesman of the kingdom, Godspower Gbenekama, also confirmed the raid of the community to one of our correspondents, adding that there were reports of sporadic shooting in the community with many residents injured.
He said, “I really cannot say their mission. We are a very peaceful community. They should leave us alone; we are not even talking of lack of development and lack of social amenities.
“As I speak with you I am in the bush where I am taking refuge. The whole community has fled and those who could not run have been rounded up and arrested, but I can tell you that we do not habour criminals, our people are innocent.
“We have a vigilance group that we put in place to ensure that militants do not infiltrate our communities.”
He was further quoted as saying that “the soldiers arrested several youths. As of 9:30am on Saturday, there was still shooting in the community. We neither have members of the Niger Delta Avengers nor Tompolo in our communities.''
Also, Spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Eric Osare, asked the Federal Government to leave Gbaramatu community alone.
Going by Gbenekama's account, more than seven gunboats loaded with armed soldiers invaded the community, shooting sporadically, beating up residents and arresting them indiscriminately.
He said that one of the victims is an elderly traditional ruler, Chief Atiti Mala, who was hit with the butt of a gun.
Gbenekama said that the settlement had nothing to do with Tompolo, who is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He appealed to the Federal Government to call the soldiers to order and protect defenseless civilians.
“We have been sacked from our settlements and the Federal Government should protect us,” he said.
Col Isa Ado, Spokesman for the Joint Military Force in the Niger Delta, declined to react to the development; he neither took calls nor replied to text messages delivered to his mobile phone.