An order has been issued to the Nigerian police for the immediate arrest of the former leader of the Niger Delta Militants, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, who shunned the order of the court to unconditionally appear on Friday. Justice Ibrahim Buba gave this order stressing that he must be produced in court on February 8, 2016 at all cost to answer the charges leveled against him.
Mr. Government was summoned alongside others based on a 40-count charge of alleged N34bn fraud levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Other accused were all in court represented by councel except Tombolo.
The other people are former Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who showed up in court in crutches; Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electricals Limited, Kemi Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited, Rex Elem, Destre Consult Limited, Gregory Mbonu and Captain Warredi Enisuoh.
The accused persons were alleged to have diverted N34 billion, which emanated from a public private partnership agreement between NIMASA and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited for personal use.
The supposed offence violates Section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Following the blunt refusal of Tompolo to appear at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday, Justice Ibrahim Buba, in response to a prosecution request said that,
“When he fails to appear, the other way to compel his compliance is by way of arrest,” said Mr. Buba.
“The court is in the position to order the warrant for the arrest of Mr. Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, and shall be issued forthwith,”
When Tompolo’s case was called,the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor, Festus Keyamo, notified the court that even though the summons was issued in Lagos late on Tuesday, the EFCC was able to paste it on the wall of the 1, Chief Agbanu DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State’s house of the ex-militant on Wednesday. He provided the court with a photographic evidence of the pasting of the summons.
Keyamo said the anti–corruption agency will apply for a bench warrant for Tompolo’s arrest in support of Section 131 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
According to him,
“The 1st accused person has consistently, even at the point of investigations, spurned all invitations to make statement to the commission.”
Keyamo also said “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.”
Speaking in favour of Government Tompolo, Akpobolokemi’s lawyer, Dr Joseph Nwobike, SAN, said although he was not representing Tompolo, it would be fair if the ex-militant leader was granted more time to appear in court having only been served with the summons a day before.
“A person served in Warri, Delta State, may need some time to come to court, moreso, when he is outside jurisdiction,” he explained.
Reacting to the news of the summons,Mr. Tompolo who is reportedly hiding in the Niger Delta creeks has denied knowledge of any court order referring the EFCC to the former President Goodluck Jonathan for more clarification about the deal in question.
However, on Saturday, the Police reported that they have not carried out the order for Tompolo’s arrest because they have not been served the bench warrant issued against him by the court.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, said the Police would move against Tompolo as soon as they get the court order.
In her words, “I understand that as of now, the Police have not received official order to arrest him.”