Oyewole acknowledged that other militants came forward after the amnesty program to secure lucrative government contracts in a nation where largely opaque budgeting allows for massive corruption. Corrupt businessmen and politicians have used fronts or so-called "briefcase" companies to secure contracts in the past.
Tompolo could not be reached for comment, despite efforts to reach him through intermediaries and by telephone. Oyewole said that no one is "as patriotic as this guy." The maritime adviser recounted a story about how the late President Umaru Yar'Adua asked Tompolo why he didn't "ask for money or ask for contract."
"His answer to President Yar'Adua was: 'Sir, as long as you are good to Nigeria, you give them their rights, I am a happy man,'" Oyewole said.
Tompolo and other militants already have benefited financially from the amnesty program. The amnesty deal in 2009 offered cash settlements to ex-militants and the promise of job training.
Some who claim to be low-level ex-militants in the delta complained that the job training did not reach anyone and the millions of dollars that came into the program were taken by leaders and not shared. A lawyer representing a delta militant leader called John Togo, who sparked violence that killed as many as 150 people in December 2010, said amnesty money promised through Tompolo never trickled down to fighters.
The scope of Global West's contract remains unclear. Oyewole said it would likely begin in April with about 20 boats and possibly increase to more than 150.
Nigeria needs assistance in its anti-piracy campaign. Recently, London-based insurers ranked the waters off Nigeria and nearby Benin as the same risk as off lawless Somalia, where piracy has reigned for years. Analysts believe pirate attacks in Nigerian waters also remain underreported, as some shippers avoid making them public over fears of seeing their insurance premiums rise.
Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria contributed to this report.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellap.