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Published On: Tue, Nov 25th, 2014

EPZ Saga: My Take is on Justice, Equity and Fairness- Tompolo

Tompolo


LAGOS NOVEMBER 25TH (URHOBOTODAY)-So much has been said about the $16 Billion Export Processing zone(EPZ)which is meant to galvanize Nigeria’s economic growth through adequate gas processing and supply, using our dear Delta State as the hub.
For one, I am happy as a Deltan that this laudable project is being planned and nurtured in my time, especially on the heels of our fight for the need by government to industrialize and enhance our economic well-being in the oil-richNiger Delta Region.

Nonetheless, I am not persuaded by the nebulous and loudly-echoed ‘economic and industrial gains’ slogan being orchestrated by some forces hiding under the EPZ Project to re-launch a back-door move for the acquisition of lands belonging to the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. In this regard, I stand on the side of my people as I have always done, to ensure that the voice of reason was raised and heard by the powers that be. As a peace-loving Kingdom, the people of Gbaramatu had used all civil and legal means to ensure that justice was done by the federal government by not going ahead with the planned ground-breaking ceremony in the face of clear injustice, unfairness and inequity.
As a result, many insinuations and perverted comments have been made by both interested and rented parties to the efect that ethnic colourations have been brought to the fore by linking the justifable postponement of the ground- breaking to President Goodluck Jonathan’s ‘soft-spot’ for the Ijaws of Gbaramatu Kingdom.
It should be noted however, that the struggle of the people Gbaramatu Kingdom for both political and economic rights pre-dates the Jonathan Presidency. History is replete with courses of events as far as the struggle of the oppressed people of Gbaramatu Kingdom is concerned. It is no longer news to all that our Itsekiri neighbours, using all advantages of being in government and power since the time of former governor, Chief James Ibori(whose mother is Itsekiri) as well as the incumbent governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan(also an Itsekiri) who both as commissioner and later Secretary to State Government under Ibori, cannot insulate himself from the calculated attempt by the government-backed Itsekiri’s attempts to enslave Gbaramatu Kingdom.
It should therefore be placed on record that if the belief of the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in their just and fairs truggle saw them through thick and thin since the time of Ibori till date, the same spirit still lives on; and such does not need the ‘soft spot’of a Nigerian President of Ijaw extraction to take the people to their rightful place. It was (still) this belief in a just and fair struggle that in spite of glaring attempts by both Ibori (then) and Uduaughan (now) to exterminate the Gbaramatu Kingdom to the advantage of their kinsmen, I made conscious eforts to respect the institution they represent. In essence, I refrained from abusing their persons as some Itsekiri leaders have mindlessly done in the case of the postponement of the ground-breaking ceremony by the President.
Perhaps, it is unfortunate to note that all those Itsekiri leaders, especially Pa J.O. Ayomike who betrayed uncontrollable and misplaced sentiments by abusing the person of the president and calling for his resignation would have achieved better things and indeed, much development would have come to their impoverished Itsekiri villages if such energy was deployed to ginger their son, who is now governor, to bring development to their areas. The Ayomikes of this world should rather be expressing worry and bury their heads in shame that the over 12 years of their sons in government and power in Delta State are more of curses than blessings to their people. The case of those vilifying President Jonathan is that of bottled-up anger and transferred aggression ordinarily targeted at those who looked the other way in the face of the suferings of their people to a man who tried to do justice by listening to all sides of an issue.
WHAT DOES FESTUS KEYAMO WANT?
This question has become imperative in view of the rented roles the Lagos-based Lawyer has played in the last couple of weeks in the afairs of the state especially as they relate to the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. Before now, I had seen Keyamo as a young promising lawyer whose passion to fght oppression was unquenchable. I see him as a brother and friend because there is still time for him to stratify rented and commercialized struggle from passionate human and civil rights crusade. Asa matter of fact, Keyamo’s continuous linkage with me to purported attempts close crime is unacceptable to me. At best, Keyamo knows too well that those whose fair for injustice I fght against, those who have been severally linked to murders in Delta State who today are his latter-day friends, are not men of conscience. As a human rights lawyer (as claimed by Keyamo), his eforts to unearth the killers of Onokpite Ogbe were applauded by many, including me. I was even tempted to disbelieve others when accusations of ‘unpalatable practices’ trailed Keyamo’s sudden u-turn to abandon the Onokpite’s case. But today, I have no reason to disbelieve such against the backdrop of Keyamo’s role in the orchestrated EPZ Crisis. Inthe face of Keyamo’s sudden u-turn in character, it is absurd to ask him if would have not have done what I did on behalf of my people should he find himself in my shoes. I therefore find very curious Keyamo’s attempt to demonize me especially when it is obvious that since I willingly embraced the Federal Government Amnesty offer, I have selfessly, at high risks too, contributed to the enhancement of peace and security in the entire Niger- Delta Region. I will therefore urge Keyamo to be on the side of truth and justice rather than being on the side of injustice because conscience is an open wound, only the truth can heal it.
CONCLUSION
My appeal to all men of conscience is to ensure that justice and fairness are made the cornerstone of human existence. Where these do not exist, it will be difcult for society to make progress. The case of the plight of the people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta is clear and unambiguous. The precepts for injustice and ingredients of inequality are daily being planted by those who find themselves in positions of authority and infuence, especially in Delta State.
It should therefore be known that those who deliberately drag the name of President Jonathan into this blackmail game are doing this to perpetuate injustice. This is the crux of the matter. But little do they know that the struggle has been an age-long one, predating the president’sascendancy to ofce and throughthe will of God, my people have been forging ahead. In the same vein, the struggle might also post-date President Jonathan unless the issues of injustice that have continually set the Gbaramatu and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities against each are permanently resolved. The Gabramatu people cannot be intimidated by any resortto blackmail,using ethnic cards.
Similarly, I will not succumb to any cheap blackmail aimed at weakening my resolve to fight for my people because this is a matter of conscience and posterity. I shall not waiver even in the face of threat and intimidation of all sorts until justice is done.

Thanks and God bless

SIGNED:
HIGH CHIEF GOVERNMENT EKPEMUPOLO

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