Former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemulopo (Tompolo), who has been declared wanted, has challenged the N45.9bn fraud charges filed against him.
In January 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged Tompolo alongside nine others before Justice Buba for an alleged N45.9bn fraud, however, the former militant leader repeatedly ignored court summons issued on him to appear to answer the charges.
Consequently, Justice Buba had on January 14 and February 8, issued a bench warrant – ordering his arrest.
Subsequently, the EFCC declared him wanted and also obtained a court order to seize all his known assets pending when he will submit himself to the court.
Fighting back, Tompolo has approached the Federal High Court in Lagos through his lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, seeking an order restraining the Federal Government and its agencies from further proceeding with the charges filed against him.
The defendants listed in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.
He is urging the court to nullify sections 221 and 306 of the ACJA – which prohibits him from seeking a stay of proceedings in his trial – stressing that the sections are infringing on his constitutional rights to fair hearing.
Tompolo also urged the court to stop the Federal Government, the EFCC and the IGP from deploying those sections of the law against him.
His lawyer, Adegboruwa argued that sections 221 and 306 are in conflict with Section 36 of the Constitution which guarantees his client’s right to fair hearing.
Adegboruwa urged Justice Buba to suspend all actions on the charges against his client pending the decision of the Court of Appeal – where he seeks to vacate the arrest warrant issued against him and also disqualify the Judge from presiding over Tompolo’s case.
He said the Federal Government and its agencies were “not entitled to file, initiate, prosecute or in any other manner pursue any criminal charge or information, against the applicant, in any manner that will constitute a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) and (6) as well the inherent powers of a court of law under Section 6(6)(a)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”
Hence, he sought an order ‘nullifying, voiding, striking down and expunging sections 221 and 306 from the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to the extent of their inconsistency with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.’