TompoloFederal Government has filed fresh criminal charges against a former Niger Delta militant leader, Chief Government Oweize Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), over an alleged N22,765,900,000 fraud.

The new 22-count charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Tompolo and 12 others last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, borders on stealing, advanced fee fraud and money laundering.

In the 22-count charge, Tompolo will face trial along with Patrick Akpobolokemi, whose four brothers – Victor, Nobert, Emmanuel and Clement – said to be at large, allegedly aided the suspects to commit the fraud.

The other suspects are Kime Engozu, Josephine Otuaga, Rita Uruakpa and Pondi Kestin as well as seven companies – Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd/GTE, Oyeinteke Global Network Ltd, Wabod Global Resources Ltd, Boloboere Properties Estate Ltd, Gokaid Marine Oil and Gas Ltd, Muhaabix Global Services Ltd and Watershed Associated Resources.

They were accused of converting various sums running into over N22.7billion allegedly stolen from NIMASA to their personal use between December 12, 2014 and April 10, 2015.

They were also accused of defrauding the Federal Government by making representations, which they knew to be false.

EFCC said the alleged offences contravene Section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3)of the same Act.

The suspects also allegedly violated various sections of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, including its sections 15(3) and 18(a) and are liable to punishment under Section 15(3) of the same Act, the commission said.

They were said to be liable to punishment under Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

In count two, the EFCC alleged that the suspects “between the 2nd day of December, 2014 and 10th April,2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to defraud, induced the Federal Government to deliver to you, the aggregate sum of N11, 900,000,000.00 by falsely pretending to the Federal Government that all that land and its appurtenances lying, being and situated at Mieka Dive Training Institute, Kurutie, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, to be acquired by NIMASA for the temporary Campus of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Warri South-West Local Government Area, is free from any encumbrances, which representation you knew to be false, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section (1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1 (3)of the same Act.”

Tompolo, it would be recalled is also facing trial on a 40-count charges over a N32 billion fraud. The trail judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba had, on January 14, issued a bench warrant for Tompolo’s arrest after he failed to report in court to face a prior criminal charge against him. The judge had, a day earlier, summoned Tompolo, but the accused did not turn up.

EFCC’s lawyer Festus Keyamo said Tompolo ignored previous invitations by EFCC during investigation. Others accused in the first charge 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, Destre Consult Limited, Gregory Mbonu and Captain Warredi Enisuoh.

EFCC, in the 40-count charge, said 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.

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.

By Olisemeka Obeche

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