Prosecutor’s Absence Stalls Trial Of Former Militant Leader, Tompolo

TompoloThe absence of the federal government prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo at the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday stalled the scheduled trial of former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Tompolo is facing a 22-count charge of alleged fraud of N47.6bn.

He was arraigned in absentia by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on April 18, 2016 alongside six brothers of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

All seven of them were declared as being “at large” when the charges were read before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

But Akpobolokemi and three others who were also listed as defendants in the amended charge, were present in court to answer to the charges.

The charges border on conspiracy, advance fee fraud and money laundering. But the defendants who were in court pleaded not guilty to all of them.

At the proceedings on Thursday, the court said that the prosecutor, Mr Keyamo wrote to ask for an adjournment on the grounds that his main witness was not available.

The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, consequently adjourned the case till December 13 and 14, 2016 for trial.

One of the defence counsels, has however filed a preliminary objection to challenge the competence of the charges.

He asked the court to strike out the entire 22 counts filed by the EFCC against his client.

Another defence counsel also informed the court of his client’s pending bail application.

Justice Buba adjourned till November 10, 2016 to take the two pending applications.

Tompolo vs. FG: Court Fixes Ruling For Dec. 12

TompoloThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Tuesday, fixed December 12, 2016 to rule on whether or not to transfer to the Court of Appeal, a suit filed against the federal government by former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun fixed the date after hearing arguments from parties involved in the matter.

Tompolo, who is wanted by the EFCC over alleged fraud worth 49.5 billion naira, sued the federal government through his lawyer, Mr Ebunolu Adegboruwa.

He is seeking an order restraining the federal government and its agencies from further proceeding with the fraud charges.

The defendants in the suit are the federal government of Nigeria, the EFCC, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.

The Federal Government had in May 2016 asked the court to dismiss with cost the suit filed by the former Niger Delta militant leader.

The government said that the suit is an abuse of court process, frivolous, time wasting, grossly misleading and erroneous in its totality.

EFCC Separates Tompolo From Charges

EFCC Separates Tompolo From ChargesThe EFCC has separated former Niger Delta Militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo from a 40-count charge of alleged fraud and money laundering.

The anti-graft agency was forced to separate Tompolo from the charges it filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos after it declared that the former Niger Delta Militant was still on the run.

Tompolo was listed as the first accused person in the said charge which the EFCC filed in January before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

The former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi and four other persons were also listed in the charge as co-accused persons.

The five were charged alongside four companies – Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.

However, efforts to arraign them had failed since January owing to the refusal of Tompolo to honour the court summons issued on him to appear in court.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, Tompolo was again absent in court as his lawyers, Mr Tayo Oyetibo and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa were also absent.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, told the presiding judge that the charge against the accused persons had been amended with Tompolo’s name removed.

He said Tompolo would be arraigned and tried separately from the others as soon as he was apprehended by the security agencies.

With the permission of the court, the other accused persons took their plea on the 40 counts levelled against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The charges bordered on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion and laundering of various sums of money belonging to NIMASA.

They all pleaded not guilty.

Justice Buba later admitted them to bail before adjourning the commencement of their trial till May 23.

Meanwhile, the judge also adjourned till April 18, for the EFCC to arraign Mr Akpobolokemi and others on another 22-count charge.

Tompolo had also been listed as the first accused person in the charge, but his name was removed following his failure to show up to answer to the charges.

The EFCC said he would also be arranged separately on the 22 counts whenever he is produced before the court.

Earlier, Justice Buba had on January 14, issued a warrant for his arrest and the said warrant was renewed on February 8.

The EFCC had also declared Tompolo wanted through a newspaper advertorial and it had also obtained a court order to seize Tompolo’s assets pending when he would submit himself for trial.

NIMASA Fraud: Court Grants Order To Seize Tompolo’s Property

TompoloThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted an order for the seizure of some properties belonging to former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo. 

Justice Ibrahim Buba granted the order after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told the court that the whereabouts of Tompolo is unknown.

According to the EFCC, a combined team of Nigerian Police and military officers had been combing the creeks for weeks without success.

Justice Ibrahim Buba had issued a warrant for the arrest of Tompolo on February 8, 2016 after he shunned repeated invitations to appear before the EFCC for questioning.

Last week, the Commission declared the ex-militant wanted.

Tompolo, Patrick Akpobolokemi, the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and eight others are accused of a multibillion Naira fraud at the agency.

At the court sitting on Friday, no lawyer announced appearance for Mr Ekpemupolo, a situation the prosecution noted was disrespectful to the court.

With Tompolo still at large, Mr Keyamo then moved a motion for an adjournment to enable the prosecution separate the charges to enable the trial of the other accused persons go on.

The prosecution counsel also filed an application urging the court to order the seizure of all identified properties belonging to Ekpemupolo.

The assets listed include property at No. 1 Chief Agbamu Close DDPA Extension Warri (Effurun), Delta State, All property of Muhaabix Global Services Ltd; a River Crew Change Boat named MUHA – 15; the property known as “Tompolo Dockyard”, by the end of Enerhen Road, Effurun, Warri.

Others are; a property known as “Tompolo Yard”, at the end of Chevron Clinic Road, next to Next Oil, Edjeba, Warri; the Diving School at Kurutie, at Escravos River; the property known as “Tompolo House” at Oporaza Town, opposite the Palace; and any other property discovered by the EFCC, movable and immovable, belonging to the first accused person.

“This application is to further secure the attendance of the first accused person. The law says that the court can order the confiscation of his properties until he appears,” Mr Keyamo said.

“Any third party can bring an application later, but we have intelligence reports that those properties and companies belong to the first accused person.

“If he fails to appear within three months, the federal government will auction off all the assets,” he added.

‎In his ruling, the judge granted the order for the seizure of all the listed properties and adjourned till March 22, 2016 for the separation of charges on the defendants.

Insurgency Not About Religion But About Power – Tunji Ariyomi

Tunji AriyomiA Political Expert and Development Scientist, Tunji Ariyomi, has reiterated that insurgency in Nigeria is not primarily about religion but chiefly about power and politics.

Mr Ariyomi, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, was also of the opinion that the abduction of the Chibok girls, as heinous as the crime is, is just a tiny bit of the huge tragedy that has befallen the nation as over 20,000 have, reportedly, died as at May 2014 as a result of insurgency.

“The Security situation is quite unfortunate but I have noticed a trend that we are looking at these issues as if they are isolated”, Ariyomi said.

“When Chibok happened people went haywire with the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign but then Chibok is just a revelation in the events that have become more or less what we could call cumulative of tragedy over time.”

Looking at the issues holistically, Mr. Ariyomi said that if Nigeria must address the problem of insurgency, it would need to review its past efforts.

“I seriously believe there are quite a number of things that we have been doing that seem not to take into consideration the characteristics of the terror we are confronting before us and ahead of us.”

He explained that there was a huge difference between insurgency, especially when it is terror driven and agitations by aggrieved individuals who might resort into violence as witnessed in the country before now.

He gave examples of the Nigeria civil war and the militancy in the Niger Delta which were grievance driven and could lead to people being brought to the table to talk about their differences with a view of solving issues with common sense.

However, insurgency, he said, is a different ball game from that. “This is different and chiefly about terror where the first thing that gets out of the window is reason and the fact that it is not motivated by any equal opportunity.”

He stated further that a solution like the amnesty given to the Niger Delta militants would not work in the issue of insurgency as it is more driven by a different set of rule. Dialogue, according to Ariyomi, would not work as well as the insurgents are more or less faceless. Therefore if the issue would be addressed, consideration must be taken on the special characteristics that make the distinction of what he described as “Cumulative terror”.

The special characteristics that make insurgency distinct, according Mr. Ariyomi, is that it is ideology driven, he said that this was the insurgents’ potent weapon and it is not principally and chiefly religious even if it uses religion as a vehicle.

“It is primarily about power”, Mr Ariyomi declared, adding that the act of insurgency in Nigeria was to make President Jonathan look as if he had lost control of the nation. “I align myself with those who believe Jonathan is the primary target and one of the reasons is to make him look incompetent and make him look out of control. That is why poor people are targeted just to show that the country is ungovernable.”

He also expressed the opinion that Nigeria would be able to address the issues if the aforementioned characteristics could be understood as other countries that have confronted insurgency of the same magnitude before. “That is why every strategy must be holistic, very comprehensive and must have different components ranging from political component, technology component, economic component (and) even subtle propaganda.”

He insisted that the insurgency in the country had been enhanced by the colour of the Nigerian system as there was division in the land, stating categorically, “We are deluding ourselves that we are one; we are not one. We are not a united people”. He added that the traits and sentiments of disunity have also crept in into the military as some of them have been compromised such that people who ought be part of the military leak critical information to insurgents which gives them an edge over the military.

On the way forward, Ariyomi maintained his earlier stance that the fight against terror cannot just be all about the military, different components must be introduced as Nigeria needs a political strategy and propaganda strategy that would address issues and negative narratives relating to insurgency.

NLC Boss Asks Jonathan To Check Utterances Of Govt Officials

The Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Issa Aremu has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to resign if he cannot call to order the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Mr Kingsley Kuku and former Niger Delta Militant, Mr Asari Dokubo as he reacted to the inciting statements made by these men.

In Mr. Aremu’s words “It was regrettable that people of questionable character were the ones speaking for the president instead of those constitutionally empowered to do so”.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives have accused both the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Mister Kingsley Kuku and former Niger Delta Militant, Mister Asari Dokubo of threatening the peace of the country following their incitiing statements insisting that President Goodluck Jonathan must be allowed to contest the 2015 presidential election for peace to reign in the country.

And considering a motion on the urgent need to check the utterances of some Nigerians which is capable of causing disaffection among the people, the House resolved to direct the Police to investigate the rationale behind the utterances of  Mr. Kuku and former Niger Delta Militant, Asari Dokubo.

And in reaction to the proposed investigation by the House, a group from the Niger Delta, the South-South Restoration Forum has vowed to institute a legal action if any of them is arrested claiming that this is not the first time such statements have been made in the country and have gone unquestioned and  wondered why  this one has attracted the attention of members of House of Representatives, seeking their arrest.

 

How To End Insecurity In Nigeria – CBN Governor

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on Wednesday said huge spending on security and use of guns by security forces would not guarantee security of lives and property of Nigerians.

The governor said this in a lecture paper he delivered at the Abia Youth Empowerment Summit in Umuahia.

He called for a more proactive measure to curb insurgency in the country, stressing that government owe it a duty to provide means of livelihood for the citizens.

“No matter how much we spend in security, no matter how many guns we give to security forces, there will not be security until these people have food on their table.

“Addressing security problems without addressing the fundamental economic causes is only a short-term measure.

“Yesterday it was Niger Delta militancy, today it is Boko Haram, tomorrow it will be something else. We have to address the problem of youth and their future across the country.”

He also advocated “difficult” structural reforms to grow the nation’s economy to scale.

He noted that more than 90 percent of religious, social, and political crises in the country had their roots in the economy.

“It’s about unemployment; it’s about poor infrastructure; it’s about an economy that is essentially dysfunctional; this is a country that imports what it can produce and exports what it does not produce.

“So the solution is simple. It’s about the difficult structural reforms that are required to grow the economy on scale.”

The dignitaries at the event included former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, among others.

Pirates attack ship in Niger Delta, kill 2 Naval guards, kidnap 4 foreigners

Pirates attacked a ship being used by an oil servicing company in waters off the Niger Delta Region on Saturday, killing two Nigerian Naval guards and kidnapping four foreigners, the Navy said.

“The incident was somewhere around the Niger Delta, where an oil servicing company was attacked by gunmen. We lost two of our men and four expatriates were abducted, one Malaysian, one Iranian,” Navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu said.

He said a Thai and an Indonesian were also taken, but had no immediate further details.

Security in the Niger Delta region has improved since militant activity shut down nearly half of the country’s oil output around the middle of the last decade, thanks to an amnesty between various militant factions and the government.

But the situation remains volatile and inflamed by organised crime and local political rivalries.

Pirates in the Niger Delta usually release kidnapped crew members after their cargo has been looted, rather than held for ransom.