The Presidency was responding to suggestion by Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, that the Buhari administration is harassing his people. He cited the trial of ex-militant leader Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo for theft and money laundering and the cancellation of the proposed Maritime University in Delta State. The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) expressed similar sentiments yesterday. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said it was untrue to say the administration is out to punish any ethnic group in the country. He said: “Anybody who is a follower of events in the country knows that this administration persecutes nobody. “The administration is just asking all Nigerians to do the right thing and anybody that goes contrary to the law will answer, irrespective of where the person comes from. “So if anybody says a particular group is being targeted for attack or assault or persecution, right thinking Nigerians know that that is not true.” Chief Clark in the open letter to Buhari described Tompolo as a gentleman who could not have been responsible for the recent pipeline attacks in Delta State. He said: “In the course of my interactions with these militant leaders, I discovered that Tompolo is one of the most responsible and peace-loving militant leaders. This was also observed by the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and late President Umaru Musa Ya’Ardua. “That was also one of the reasons why during one of the discussions I had with the former President, Chief Obasanjo in February, 2007, he said to me that he learnt that Tompolo was not well educated, that he was wondering what appointment or position could be given to him to keep him engaged and to effect permanent peace in the area. “I suggested to him that because of his (Tompolo’s) dexterity, he should for a payment, be engaged to provide surveillance for the oil pipelines and supervise oil installations together with his colleagues in the various communities.” He condemned the pipeline vandalization that trailed the arrest order issued against Tompolo last week by a Federal High Court in Lagos after the ex-militant failed to show up to answer charges for theft and money laundering. Clark said the perpetrators of the sabotage should “be fished out and punished for their actions.” He added: “On the other hand, however, whilst not making a case for Tompolo, I do not think that he will be part of such dastardly acts. “Mr. President should please take time and look at the indices of cases of pipeline vandalism between 2014 and today. “I will plead with Mr. President to investigate this matter and treat it strategically.” Clark faulted government’s decision to discontinue work on the Nigerian Maritime University. The take-off campus for the university, Mieka Dive Training Institute Limited/Gte, was sold to government for N13 billion Clark said: “Tompolo is one of the owners of Mieka Dive Training Institute Limited/Gte. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) entered into an agreement with the institute to purchase the institute covering an expanse of 6.597 hectares of well sand-filled land together with all the structures thereon, for the sum of N13,072,564,822.00 (thirteen billion, seventy two million, five hundred & sixty four thousand, eight hundred & twenty two naira only), as the take-off campus for the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko.” He said: “This legitimate transaction was approved by the Federal Executive Council at its 34th Executive Council, EC; meeting presided over by the former President, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.” Clark took exception to a statement by Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi who was quoted as saying: “who will attend the university (Maritime University)? How many parents will allow their children to go to such place where it proposed to site the university…” The Ijaw leader said: “If this statement is true, it is very insulting, callous and vindictive on the people by Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. It is all aimed at executing his plans of personal vendetta against the people of the Niger Delta. “This is unacceptable to the people. I strongly advise him to retrace his steps and reconcile with the people. He is appointed as Minister to represent Rivers State (Niger Delta people), based on constitutional provision.” Apparently taking a cue from Chief Clark’s open letter the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) yesterday accused the Federal Government of singling out their ethnic group for persecution and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to arrest the situation. IYC spokesman, Eric Omare, told AFP: “Our position is that due process should be followed. We support an anti-corruption war that is done within the ambit of the law. “We seriously oppose selective prosecution and political victimization.” The IYC condemned the pipeline vandalization but also claimed that the military had invaded several Ijaw communities in Delta State, destroying properties and causing injuries. “The Ijaw people are not at war with the federal government. We call on the military to exercise restraint in their actions. There is no basis to attack innocent villagers,” said Omare.]]>