The Daily Telegraph

Nigeria hires warlord to protect oil supplies he once attacked

- By Ben Farmer and Will Brown

A REBEL warlord and animist priest once notorious for attacking Nigeria’s pipelines has now been hired by the government to guard his old targets and stop rampant oil theft.

Government Ekpemupolo, more usually known as Tompolo, was hunted as an enemy of the state as his guerilla army vowed to “destroy the capacity of the Nigerian government to export oil”.

However, security companies linked to the 51-year-old have now been recruited to curb theft on the same pipelines he used to blow up.

“We are going to move into serious action where we will stop all the illegal activities in the Niger Delta region,” Mr Ekpemupolo, 51, told reporters in the town of Oporoza in Delta state.

Oil production in Nigeria has plummeted to its lowest levels in half a century leaving the country unable to meet its Opec quota. The government blames theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining, which it says siphons off as much as a fifth of output every day.

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