When a strategic agency of the United States of America (USA) made a damning prediction in respect of Nigeria nearly one decade ago, to the effect that an implosion was imminent in black Africa’s most populous nation, not a few people dismissed it as a joke taken too far. But as 2015, the year marked down as Nigeria’s critical turning point, approaches, certain developments across the land are beginning to give keen watchers of the unfolding events sleepless nights.
Perhaps one of such most significant developments is the alleged build–up of arms and sundry and other heavy military hardware in the Niger Delta region. Coming so very close to the general elections scheduled for February 2015 palpable fears are rife that the alleged massive stockpiling of arms in the oil producing region may be for purposes that are not entirely in the nation’s interest.
In fact, a number of sources close to the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and the State Security Services disclosed that over the past couple of months, “concerns have been raised over the acquisition and movement of arms within and outside the Niger Delta area” on an industrial scale, for purposes that are not very clear.
“Initially, when we noticed the trend of rather unusual arms stockpiling, our concern centred on the security implication, but those concerned allayed our fears by claiming that it was all part of efforts to protect the coastline and checkmate oil bunkering,” one of the insiders who spoke to this medium on condition of anonymity, disclosed. “But as time went on it become obvious that the anti – bunkering campaign is merely being used as a cover by certain elements to acquire some rather sensitive types of weapons.”
According to another dependable source, what has particularly been giving those privy to the “worrisome development” grey hair is the involvement of numerous former militants and their large army of “boys” in the arms purchase and movement scheme. This is more so as despite the fact that many of the erstwhile militants have since been handsomely compensated (some, for instance, have been sent abroad for training as pilots with mouth – watering monthly stipends) a large number of others are still floating around, seemingly available for hire by the highest bidder.
One of the former militant leaders at the centre of the arms deal is Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, who is better known as Tompolo. According to recently leaked reports by intelligence outfits, Tompolo allegedly purchased a number of military hardware, including war boats and fast – speed hawk class guided – missile boats which have been re- armed with new weaponry.
The sophisticated battleships were said to have been built for the Norwegian Navy between 1977 and 1982 as part of Norway’s effort to combat smuggling in its challenging coastal terrain. They were, however, decommissioned and deactivated in 1992, following which a United Kingdom – based firm, CAS Global, sold them to the former warlord.
Tompolo is believed to have acquired the battle – hardened battleships from CAS Global through Global West Vessel Service, a company allegedly owned by the ex – militant chief. Fears are rife that by not only acquiring such sophisticated military hardware but re – arming them with deadly missiles, national security could be compromised.
Interestingly, legislators in Norway are said to be at daggers drawn with their government following reports that such weapons had been sold “not just to an individual, but one with a history of violence, including hostage taking, bombing and assassination” this is even as the spokesman of that country’s State Department, Frode Andersen, was quoted as saying that “the export of (the battleship) has followed correct procedure and terms of export to Great Britain.”
In other words, having initially sold the equipment to a British firm, Norway has washed its hands off the whole thing and diverted attention instead to the United Kingdom. Notwithstanding this buck – passing, discerning Nigerians are understandably concerned over the curious purchase of these warships in particular, and the alleged stockpiling of arms in the Niger Delta region. With the 2015 general elections drawing nearer and USA’s prediction of Nigeria’s break – up in 2015 still fresh in the minds, it’s not hard to comprehend why such concerns are becoming increasingly pervasive.