Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the arrest of an ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, for his failure to appear before him on Thursday to answer 30 counts of alleged N34bn fraud.

The judge issued a bench warrant against Tompolo and ordered that he must be produced in court on February 8, 2016 by all means to answer the charges.

The EFCC has charged Tompolo and a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, alongside eight others.

Justice Buba had, in chambers on Tuesday, made an order compelling Tompolo to unconditionally appear before him on Thursday (yesterday) to answer to the charges.

But while all the other accused, including Akpobolokemi who came on crutches, were in court with their lawyers on Thursday, Tompolo was absent and did not send a representative.

When the matter was called, the EFCC prosecutor, Festus Keyamo, informed the court that despite the fact that the summons was issued in Lagos late on Tuesday, the EFCC successfully pasted it on the wall of the 1, Chief Agbanu DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State’s house of the ex-warlord on Wednesday.

He furnished the court with a photographic evidence of the pasting of the summons.
Noting that despite the summons being served on Tompolo as directed by the judge, the accused did not appear in court.

Keyamo said the EFCC would be applying for a warrant of arrest for Tompolo, pursuant to Section 131 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

Keyamo added, “The 1st accused person has consistently, even at the point of investigations, spurned all invitations to make statement to the commission.

“We have extended an invitation to him to come and answer charges, but like an outlaw, he put out a full page advert, saying that nobody should push him to war; in a country with laws!

“The judiciary will not take such nonsense from anybody in a country governed by law and that is why we are applying for a warrant for his arrest to let us know if he is an outlaw.”

Responding to Keyamo, counsel for Akpobolokemi, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, pleaded with the court to give Tompolo more rope to pull as he was only served on Wednesday.

Nwobike, who clarified that he was not representing Tompolo, said the court might give Tompolo till Friday (today) to comply with the order in the interest of justice.

But Justice Buba noted that Tompolo had consistently disobeyed lawful authorities, saying the law was clear that any accused person, who shunned court summons, should be arrested and compelled to appear in court.

The judge, in a bench ruling, held, “The process is to serve him with summons to appear. Where he appears, that is the end of the matter. Where he fails to appear in obedience to the summons, the other process is to compel his attendance by way of arrest.

“There’s an affidavit, showing that the first defendant (Tompolo) was served as ordered by the court. In the circumstance, the court is in a position to exercise its discretion to order for the arrest of Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a Tompolo) to compel his attendance to answer the allegations before the court by dint of Section 131 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

“And it is so hereby ordered that the warrant of arrest of Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo) shall be issued forthwith.”

Justice Buba subsequently adjourned till February 8, 2016 for Tompolo to be produced in court.

The judge, however, made no order remanding the accused, who appeared in custody.

Justice Buba said they should all go home and return on February 8 but directed that anyone of them, who came to court on Thursday from the EFCC custody, should also return there.

He directed Keyamo to approach the court to seek a remand order if he believed that anyone of them was likely to run away.

Apart from Tompolo and Akpobolokemi, the other accused persons in the charge are Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Capt. Warredi Enisuoh.

Among the accused also are four companies – Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.

They were accused of conspiring to divert various sums of money, running into over N34bn and belonging to NIMASA, to their personal use.

The EFCC said they acted contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

The EFCC had, in December last year, arraigned Akpobolokemi and others on two separate charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Justice Buba fixed January 18 for trial.

Twitter: @CKNNigeria
Facebook: CKNNigeria
CKN NEWS Hotline: 08080054001
Whatsapp: 08099677755


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

Previous Post Next Post

نموذج الاتصال