Fugitive ex-militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, has dismissed as false, reports that four persons drowned in a boat mishap on their way to the venue of his late father – Thomas Ekpemupolo’s burial ceremony held in his hometown of Gbaramatu in Delta State.
The spokesperson of the Delta State Police Command had on Saturday confirmed the incident but said the number of casualties was yet to be ascertained.
“For your information, there is no manifest to show the number of passengers in the boat. So the number of deaths is not certain yet, the bodies will float by tomorrow (Sunday)”, said the police spokesperson, SP Celestina Kalu.
In his reaction, Tompolo, in a statement issued yesterday through his media adviser, Comrade Paul Bebenimibo, dismissed the reported death of the four persons as a deliberate mischief by some persons out to cast aspersions on his person.
“We wish to state clearly that there was no such incident linked to the burial of Tompolo’s father. Tompolo father’s burial which took place during the weekend was crowned with huge success.
“The three days’ burial programme for late Chief Thomas Ekpemupolo, which started on Friday and ended on Sunday morning was attended by over 10,000 persons, including the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Barr Kingsley Otuaro, representatives of the speaker of the House of Representatives and other top government functionaries ended in a peaceful atmosphere”, Bebenimibo said.
The statement, however, noted that if the tragic incident indeed occurred as reported in the media, the leaders of Kurutie and Ogulagha communities (where two of the purported victims were said to hail from), who were deeply involved in the burial arrangement, did not even raise such issue during the ceremony.
“Therefore the story is another attempt by enemies of the Ekpemupolo family to cast aspersion on High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) and other members of the family”, it said.
It further described the burial ceremony as “carnival-like” and a “unifying event”, which was attended by the Ijaws from all over the country, the Urhobos, the Itsekiris.
“Sympathizers were adequately entertained with music, food and drinks, and everyone was apparently satisfied with the way the burial ceremony was planned”, it added.
The former militant leader, who expressed his appreciation to all and sundry, who contributed in one way or the other to the success of the burial ceremony, advised journalists to always observe the principles of objectivity and accuracy in news reporting and writing as there is no alternative to responsible journalism in Nigeria, particularly now that he said “the federal government is preaching attitudinal change of Nigerians in the country”.