TompoloThe Federal High Court in Lagos has  ordered a former Niger Delta militant leader, Mr Government Oweize Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), to appear before it today (Thursday) over a N34 billion fraud charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Also standing trial in the matter include a former Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Patrick Akpobolokemi; Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electricals Limited, Kemi Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited, Rex Elem and Destre Consult Limited.

Justice Ibrahim Buba issued the summons on Tompolo on Wednesday, following a January 12 motion ex-parte by EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo.

“An order is granted to the applicant issuing a summons to compel the appearance of Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) before this court, having been alleged to have committed the offences as contained in the body of the charge,” Justice Buba ruled.

The judge also granted EFCC leave to serve the summons and the charge on Tompolo by affixing them on a conspicuous part of his address at 1, Chief Agbanu DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State.

Despite being in hiding, the EFCC said it would arraign Tompolo and the nine others at the Federal High Court, Lagos, in absentia on a 40-count of alleged money laundering, conspiracy, stealing and diversion of funds.

‘’The suspects allegedly diverted N34 billion, which accrued from the public private partnership agreement between NIMASA and Global West Vessel   Specialist Limited for personal use,” EFCC declared in a statement issued through its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren.

The allegations in the 40-count-charge also include conversion of several millions of naira, dollars and property belonging to NIMASA for personal purposes. The amounts allegedly diverted into private use by Tompolo and co includes: N601,516.13 and $1,766,428.62; N27,690,113.79 and $17,491,378.64 as well as N27,690,113.79 and $17,491,378.64 .

The alleged offence contravenes Section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act, EFCC argued.

The second principal suspect in the N64 billion fraud, Akpobolokemi was re-arrested in a dramatic manner by security agents outside the Federal High Court premises in Lagos on December 14, 2015 following the adjournment of his trial for another alleged fraud.

The re-arrest of the former NIMASA boss was linked to allegations of fraudulently coveting about N12,905,485,000 meant for a maritime university. About N11,737,854,485 of the amount was allegedly paid into a company suspected to be owned by Tompolo.

Akpobolokemi is also alleged to have diverted N816 million meant for the Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit (VIMSAS).

EFCC has already arraigned Akpobolokemi and three others for allegedly converting N2.6 billion as well as defrauding the Federal Government of N795.2 million.
The accomplices are: Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan and three companies – Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.

In a 22-count, the accused were said to have converted N2,658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28, 2015. The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Akpobolokemi and nine others, including two companies, were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu on a separate charge of conspiring to convert N3.4 billion belonging to NIMASA. They had also pleaded not guilty to the charge.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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