Monday, February 8, 2016 5:14 pm
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria, today renewed its earlier order that security agencies in Nigeria, should arrest former Niger Delta militant Government Ekpemupolo, charged with N13 billion theft
Justice Ibrahim Buba reiterated his order, while ruling on an application challenging substituted service of the forty count criminal charge served on the accused.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) had filed a forty count charge against Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo and nine others, on Jan. 11,2016
Charged alongside Tompolo are: Patrick Akpobolokemi, Global West Vessel, Odimiri Electrical Ltd, Kime Engozu. Boloboere Ltd, Rex Elem, Destre Ltd, Gregory Mbonu and Captain Warrendi Enisuoh.
When the case was mentioned, EFCC prosecuting counsel Mr Festus Keyamo anounced his appearance, while Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) announced appearance as counsel for Tompolo. Keyamo told the court that there was an application filed on behalf of Tompolo, challenging service of the charge served on him because of defect in the address of service.
Mr Keyamo opposed the application on the grounds that by the provisions of section 96 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, such application cannot be adjourned for hearing
Thereafter Justice Buba urged counsels not to waste the time of the court on mere technicalities as the whole essence of substituted service was to bring to the attention of the accused, that a charge had been preferred against him.
Justice Buba stressed that regardless of how the service was effected, if the accused becomes aware of it, then the purpose of service has been fulfilled.
Buba however, urged accused Oyetibo to move his application.
Adopting his written address as his argument on the issue, Oyetibo argued that his application does not attack the competence of the charge but rather, service of the charge.
He said that the service was effected on Agbanu St, instead of Agbamu St.
Oyetibo added that the residence of the accused in Warri has a black gate but that service was effected on a residence with see-through gates.
He, therefore, urged the court to hold that service of the charge was not properly effected on the first accused.
Ruling on the application, Buba dismissed the application and ordered the attendance in court of Tompolo.
Buba said “The entire gamut of this application is for the court to set aside the order granting substituted service of the charge.
“The first defendant missed the point completely; the law is that any body like the EFCC has the power to arrest anyone if it has reasonable belief that such person has committed an offence.
“On Jan. 12 when the application for substituted service was moved, one of the averment was that the applicant was invited by the EFCC to answer to some allegations, but up till today he has not deemed it fit to honour the invitation.
“It is very clear that the order for substituted service is more than justified against a man who has refused to honour lawful invitation by the EFCC.
“Not only is the accused aware of the charge but has further briefed counsel representing him, who on his behalf, demanded for all processes filed.
“Therefore, all the authorities cited on this issue are with respect, misconceived: whether served by substituted means or not, the accused is aware of the charge.
“The application challenging service is misconceived and is hereby dismissed.
“The order for arrest still subsists; all authorities in Nigeria are hereby further ordered to ensure that the order of this court for the arrest of Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo is carried out to the letter
Nigeria’s foremost anti graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) alleges that Tompolo and ex-NIMASA boss Patrick Akpobolokemi converted $108.7 million and N2.178 billion, property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, knowing that the said sum were proceeds of theft.
Included in the criminal charge are three other persons and five limited liability companies
The eight other accused to be arraigned alongside the accused Niger Delta militant and ex-NIMASA boss are,Global West Vessel specialist limited,Odimiri Electricals limited,Kime Engozu,Boloboere Property and Estate ltd, Rex Elem, Destre Consult Ltd, Gregory Mbonu,and Captain Warredi Enisuoh.
In count seventeen to count thirty-Eight of the criminal charge,Rex Elem,Gregory Mbonu and Destre consult Ltd were alleged to have converted,the sum of $106.89 billion, property of Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd knowing that the sum was derived from official corruption.
In counts 39 and 40,Captain Warredi Enisuoh was alleged to have converted the sum of eight million Naira property of Global West Vessel Specialist knowing that the money was derived from official corruption.
The offence alleged to have been committed by all the accused are contrary to and punishable under money laundering Act of 2012.
Patrick Akpolobokemi,is currently standing trial in two different courts of the Federal high court Lagos division, for various cases of theft and money laundering.