Scores of students from the Niger Delta embarked on a peaceful protest to demand the dropping of all corruption charges against former militant and fugitive, Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in courts.
Tompolo’s travails obviously began after the defeat of his benefactor and political leader, Dr Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election which brought in the current Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
The students, comprising members of the National Association of Gbaramatu Students (NAGS) and the Law Students Association of Nigerian Students, Delta State University (DELSU), formed part of the protesters demanding Tompolo’s freedom from the charges.
“Tompolo is not guilty, ” “Tompolo is a prominent builder of the future of youths in Nigeria,” “EFCC must drop all charges against Tompolo,” “Though politically prosecuted, Tompolo maintains his support for national security,” were some of the inscriptions on placards the protesters were armed with.
According to them, Tompolo remains a saviour of some sort to many students who had hitherto had no access to education.
President of NAGS, Freeborn Abraiye, while addressing journalists enthused that, “Tompolo is being witch hunted, his efforts in education of students cannot be overemphasised and his passion is enormous.
“Tompolo always ensured that youths of the region get scholarships to study. He is a selfless leader, the charges against him should be dropped.”
Attorney General of LAWSAN, DELSU, Jonathan Obiri on his part averred that , “Tompolo has done well. The charges against him are frivolous and of no effect.
“The government is only witch hunting him, they have no issues tangible against him. Tompolo is our saviour in the region. He knows the importance of education and has fought to give it to us.
“The government is doing little in the development of Niger Delta, this was even possible because people like Tompolo came out to challenge the impunity.”
A beneficiary of UK Masters degree, sponsored by Tompolo, Rachel Briyai, stated that the government should swallow their pride and quash all the charges against Tompolo, considering the efforts he has put in the development of the region.
“The charges against Tompolo are frivolous, they should be dropped, he wants development, he should be encouraged by the government to do more and not to attack him,” he admonished.
Meanwhile, Media Consultant to Tompolo, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo, attended to the protesters, called on the government to heed the calls of the students.
He also contended that Tompolo was innocent of the charges, that the issue was a purel political witch-hunt.
Bebenimibo added that Tompolo was always ready to support students’ educational pursuits, adding seven students would be traveling in January to commence their Masters degree courtesy of Tompolo.
It will be recalled that Tomopolo has gone into hiding following a Lagos high court warrant of arrest issued on him over his alleged involvement in monies running into billions of naira used to purchase lands for the establishment of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko described as outrageous and other charges.