Nigerian Ex-Militant Leader Accepts Government’s Niger Delta Vow

A former Nigerian militant leader who used to direct attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta withdrew an ultimatum that warned of a “breakdown of law and order” after the government committed to appointing a board for a regional development agency.

Government Ekpemupolo, widely known as Tompolo, said he had “reluctantly” accepted the outcome of a meeting of local leaders with Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio on Thursday. Akpabio has “promised profusely” to set up a permanent board to run the Niger Delta Development Commission, or NDDC, before the end of the month, Tompolo said in a statement on Saturday.

Akpabio told reporters after the meeting in Delta state in the south of the West African country that he would fast-track the process of creating a new board. “I will do all in my authority to make sure that their aspirations are met and everyone is happy,” he said, according to footage of his comments.

Senior commanders including Tompolo accepted a government amnesty in 2009, agreeing to disarm in exchange for monthly stipends for 30,000 of their fighters. Their loose coalition of militias, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, had carried out a campaign of targeted violence in Nigeria’s oil producing region that had slashed the country’s average daily output of crude.

On May 30, Tompolo called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fill the NDDC’s board within a week “to avert a total breakdown of law and order that will equally affect crude oil exploration and exploitation activities.”

Caretaker managers have run the NDDC, a government department created in 2000 to promote the development of Nigeria’s crude producing region, since the president dissolved the board in 2019.

Tompolo does “not want anything to disrupt the relative peace we are enjoying” in the Niger Delta and urged the government to cease its “shenanigans” by swiftly nominating the NDDC’s new board, according to his statement on Saturday.

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