WARRI—THE people of Oporoza, traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, have said that the Oporoza Guesthouse, listed as “Tompolo House,” which the Federal High Court, Lagos, recently ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to confiscate, belongs to the community and not the former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
Ibibenimowe (Mobilization Officer) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, who spoke to Vanguard, said: “Oporoza Guest House, which is the only building opposite the palace of the Gbaramatu monarch referred to as ‘Tompolo House’ by the EFCC had never been owned by Tompolo and we are surprised that the agency is misleading the Federal High Court, Lagos.
“It is owned by the community and that was why when the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta bombed it under the same erroneous assumption in 2009, the community went to the Federal High Court, Asaba, to seek damages.
“The community was taken aback by the destruction of its lodging known as Oporoza Guest House and other houses, including the palace of Gbaramatu monarch, and the Federal High Court, Asaba, in its judgment recognised that the guest house belongs to the community. The JTF killed a young man, Atu Keniye, lodging in the guest house during the mindless bombardment.
“The Federal High Court, Asaba, about two and a half years ago, ordered the Federal Government to pay the community over N99 billion as damages for the destruction. Government did not appeal the judgment and has not paid us until date.
“I speak as the Mobilization Officer of Gbaramatu Kingdom. We read in the newspapers that the Federal High Court, Lagos, gave the EFCC a go-ahead to seize our property. That is why we are crying out because we know it is illegal to seize our property when we have not committed any offence.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Oporoza Guest House is a habitation where every Oporoza son, who does not own a house in Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of the kingdom, sleeps when he comes home. It is a monument of pride to us and that is why we had to rebuild it after the military’s bombing in 2009.”
He explained that the guesthouse debacle and Mieka Diving Institute, Kurutie, which the EFCC also listed as Tompolo’s property were part of the reason many people were reading witch-hunt in the commission’s action.
He said, “It is a fact that all the buildings of Mieka Diving Insititute in Kurutie, formerly belonging to Tompolo had been acquired by the Federal Government at N13 billion or thereabout from Tompolo as the temporal site of the Nigeria Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko. I read this in the newspapers.
“Therefore, the EFCC is merely confusing the Federal High Court, Lagos because government had already bought the property from Tompolo. It belongs to the Federal Government or is the court order for the agency to seize its government property. Listing the property as Tompolo’s and purporting to seize what belongs to government is certainly a misnomer,” he said.