The pioneer chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Ahmed Tijani Ramalan, has revealed that the agency pays the sum of N1.5bn monthly to the leader of the disbanded militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Mr. Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, to protect the nation’s maritime areas.
Ramalan, however, lamented that despite the unjustifiable payment, over 400,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen daily from the country.
The former NIMASA chairman, who revealed this to LEADERSHIP in an interview in Kaduna, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel the contract given to the ex-militant by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said, “Over 400, 000 barrels of crude oil are being stolen daily from our shores under President Jonathan; yet we had a government that has the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the government of Jonathan decides to hand over the security of our maritime waters to Tompolo at a very exorbitant amount of money.
“And these same people that are given the job of our maritime security are the ones that are collaborating with the international shipping companies to steal our oil”.
According to the ex-NIMASA DG, one of the ways to help the country’s economy to bounce back is to revoke Tompolo’s contract.
“And if Buhari does not do so, we will be the first to start attacking him. There is no basis to give that kind of billion naira job to ex-militants”, he declared.
Making further clarification on how long the payment has been going on, Ramalan said it started “sometime after 2011 when Jonathan won his election and since then the payment has been on.
“I was the pioneer chairman of NIMASA, and NIMASA is the one funding the contract given to Tompolo. This is a guy that is collecting about N1.5bn every month and yet our Armed Forces are not well funded. So, we call on the president to discard such contract”.
Ramalan further stated that Buhari’s strong character and honesty would help him provide sound leadership for the country.
“We supported President Buhari’s presidency because we believe that the country needs a strong leadership. The insecurity and economic problem that we are having in the country today is because of lack of a strong and quality leadership”, he said.
“We believe the country needs a leader that is not corrupt, because the issue of corruption in the country has led the country to its knees.
“The country would have gone down if the administration of Jonathan was allowed to continue. For us, we believe that having a new leader is what the country needs because of the massive corruption. We believe in President Buhari; we believe there is hope in having him as the president”.
He also expressed confidence in Buhari’s ability to solve the problem of insecurity in the country.
Efforts to get Tompolo’s reaction to the allegation were unsuccessful as at the time of publishing this report.