Tompolo is a former Nigerian militant turned billionaire businessman. He was the commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). The former guerrilla fighter led the agitation against the Nigerian government and different international oil companies over the exploitation and oppression of his people as well as the devastation and degradation of their environment caused by unchecked pollution through improper oil production methods.
Tompolo: Biography of the Billionaire Militant
Tompolo was born Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo on the 12th of April 1971 to the Okerenoko royal family, in the traditional Gbaramatu Kingdom of Delta State, Nigeria. He was raised by his biological parents and got his basic education at Okepopo Primary School in Warri. He completed his secondary school education in 1993.
During that time, Tompolo had begun to notice the unethical sidelining of his people from the gains accrued from the production of oil which was drilled from his own community. This prompted him to join a Niger Delta resistance group. In 1998, he joined the newly formed Ijaw Youth Council, where he became a respected member. But due to increased internal politics within the group that led to little progress, Tompolo joined the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta where he quickly rose to the role of high commander.
Tompolo had meanwhile amassed a lot of wealth said to be mostly from oil bunkering. His wealth put him at the forefront of operations as he was able to fund the group with the resources they needed to achieve their goals which included heavy artillery weapons and boats. He also extended an invitation to Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) to take refuge in Delta state in 2005. This facilitated MEND to be recognized as the leading agitation group in the region as it reportedly sought to form a union of all the relevant militant groups in the Niger Delta.
This put Tompolo in command of thousands of militants and he was very successful in his operations, attacking oil installations in the area and abducting several oil company personnel. MEND is said to have officially begun its operations by kidnapping nine foreign staff of Wilbros, an American oilfield services company based in Panama, but with major offices and executives in Houston, USA. Tompolo was able to brag that aside from Mr. Dokubo-Asari and Ateke Tom, every other militant in the region was under his tutelage.
His activities began to strike fear in the Nigerian government as well as other international bodies who had operations and investment in the region. This gave him a seat at the table to negotiate terms in which the militants would lay down their weapons in exchange for amnesty and development projects to be undertaken in the Niger Delta. He was granted full amnesty alongside all of his men, said to be over 2000 when they embraced the amnesty offer from the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on June 27, 2009. This followed with the handing over of weapons by militant commanders in the Niger Delta region in exchange for the promised amnesty and guarantee of jobs and training by the government.
The militants were received with great cheers by hundreds of Niger Delta people who wore shirts with the inscription; Tompolo Is Our Hero. He soon after began working with government forces to capture militants committing atrocities in the region in the name of his group.
Tompolo Net Worth (Private Jet)
It is unclear exactly what Tompolo’s net worth is, however, it is said to be in billions of naira. This can be calculated from the millions he received from the government through the amnesty program as well as his other business ventures which included illegal oil bunkering and most recently, arms trading. Having been a close friend of President Goodluck Jonathan, Tompolo was awarded a contract through his company, the Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL), of over N15 billion naira to supply 20 vessels for the use of the Nigerian military authorities to secure its waterways.
Tompolo’s wealth can also be seen by his ownership of a private jet. According to reports by various sources, the ex-militant owns a Learjet 60SE, which costs a whopping N2.12 billion, made by Canadian aerospace company Bombardier.
Tompolo is presently wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a case of conspiracy and the illegal diversion of the sum of N34,000,000,000 (Thirty-Four Billion Naira) and N11,900,000,000 (Eleven Billion, Nine Hundred Million Naira) belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
On several occasions, Tompolo has shunned the order of a Federal High Court in Lagos to appear before it and answer to a 40-count charge of alleged fraud levelled against him by the EFCC. All efforts made by both the police and military forces to apprehend him have proved abortive. It eventually boiled down to Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos Federal High court to order for the seizure of some properties belonging to the former Niger Delta militant. Until now, the whereabouts of Tompolo is unknown.