Drop Charges Against Tompolo, Niger-Delta Students Tell FG

Tompolo

Students from the Niger Delta want the Federal Government to quash charges against an ex-militant, Mr Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

They made their demand known while staging a peaceful protest in Warri, the commercial centre of Delta State.

The students consist of the National Association of Gbaramatu Students (NAGS) and Law Students Association of Nigerian Students, Delta State University chapter.

The students claim to have benefited tremendously from the educational scholarship program of the Tompolo foundation, they, however, want the government to encourage him to invest more rather than prosecute him.

A beneficiary of the United Kingdom Master’s programmes sponsored by Tompolo urged the government to do what was needful in developing the region.

He said, “The government is only witch-hunting him, they have no issues tangible against him. Tompolo is our saviour in the region. He knows the importance of education and has fought to give it to us.”

Another beneficiary, Rachel Briyai, described the charges levelled against her benefactor as ‘frivolous.’

“The charges against Tompolo are frivolous and should be dropped. He wants development and should be encouraged by the government to do more, not be attacked.”

Since the last quarter of 2015, the former militant leader went off the security radar, following the manhunt for him by law enforcement agents, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian military.

He was alleged to have sold some fictitious buildings and facilities at the Kurutie temporal site of the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU) in Delta State to the previous administration, purportedly pocketing about N13 billion.

Upon subsequent invitations by the anti-graft agency, Tompolo had refused several entreaties.

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had in his acting capacity as President a few months back visited the university to access the structures on the ground.

Appeal Court Okays Seizure Of Tompolo’s Properties By EFCC

Tompolo

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has dismissed an appeal filed by ex-militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, seeking to set aside the decision of the Federal High Court, Lagos which empowered the EFCC to attach all the properties belonging to him. 

Justice I. N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, had on February 19,  2016, made an order attaching Tompolo’s properties for failure to appear to answer the charges against him.

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

It will be recalled that on December 15, 2015, the Commission instituted a Criminal charge against Tompolo and nine others over allegations of fraud at NIMASA.

However, despite substituted service of the Court Summons effected on him, Tompolo refused to appear in Court and on January 14, 2016, Justice Buba issued a warrant of arrest against him. Armed with the Warrant of Arrest, the Commission launched a manhunt for him, but could not effect his arrest.

On February 19, 2016, the Commission, through its counsel, Festus Keyamo, prayed the court for an order attaching the properties of Tompolo by seizure pending his arrest and/or appearance before the Court. The court granted the Commission request prompting Tompolo to appeal against the decision.

However, in a unanimous judgment on Thursday, the Court of Appeal held that Tompolo cannot be heard complaining that his properties are attached by the Court below when he has not come to answer to the summons against him.

The court held that the option available to Tompolo is to appear before the Federal High Court to apply for the order to be discharged, instead of filing the Appeal.

The Court of Appeal was of the view that his private right of property has not been breached by the said order.

Rivers Rerun: Ex-Militant Leader, Ateke Tom Calls For Peace

Rivers Rerun: Ex-Militant Leader, Ateke Tom Calls For PeaceAhead of the December 10 new date for the conclusion of the legislative election in Rivers state, an ex-militant leader, Ateke Tom has called for peaceful elections.

In a meeting with journalists in Okrika, he advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the polls are transparent.

“I want Rivers people to go out for a peaceful election so that there will be peace in the state. Whether you are APC or PDP, go out on that day and vote peacefully.

“Any party that wants to do rally can do their rally anywhere, nobody should disturb them. If they want to use my bedroom for their rally, I will give them my bedroom key after all before APC or PDP, there was Rivers state.

“No one should use my name to cover their failure if they have failed before, you are free to do your rally anywhere,” he said.

There are fears that the tension that is already building up to the December 10 new date for the conclusion of the legislative rerun does not show good signs.

This is in view of the violence that greeted the 2015 general elections in the state and the March 19 legislative rerun in Rivers state which led to the cancellation of the exercise in some local government areas.

Ateke Tom’s community in Okrika also experienced some violence during a political rally in the 2015 polls.

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.

Gbaramatu People Demand Release Of Youths From Army

GbaramatuThe people of Oporoza community, the headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State have staged a protest demanding the release of some of their youths allegedly captured by the Nigerian Army several weeks ago.

According to them, the military invaded their community under the guise that they were in search of the Niger Delta Avengers, destroying and carting away valuables as well as capturing some youths.

The protest comes a month after the alleged invasion of the Nigerian Army on Gbaramatu community.

They claimed that their captured loved ones were neither directly nor indirectly connected to the Niger Delta Avengers.

They have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the military to order to release the youths.

Meanwhile, one of the officers at the Nigerian Army 3rd Battalion in Warri, Delta State, who preferred to be anonymous confirmed to Channels Television that the youths were indeed arrested but were being interrogated for various offences.

He said that there is no need for their friends and families to entertain any fears as they have not been killed as alleged but were merely going through routine investigation.

He said that they were arrested in the wake of several attacks on pipelines in the Niger Delta.

The Gbaramatu community has been in the limelight in recent times following speculations and allegations that one of its indigenes popularly known as Tompolo is connected to the Niger Delta Avengers.

Fundamental Rights Enforcement: FG Asks Court To Dismiss Tompolo’s Suit

Ondo PDPThe Federal Government has asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to dismiss with cost a suit filed by the former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemulopo, popularly known as Tompolo.

In the suit, Tompolo through his counsel, Ebunoluwa Adegboruwa is seeking to nullify Sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

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

Tompolo, had in the fundamental rights enforcement suit urged the court to nullify the sections under which he was charged before the court on the grounds that the sections are invalid and unconstitutional because they violate his constitutional rights to fair hearing.

The ex-militant also argued that the sections are unconstitutional so far as they seek to prevent the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objection to a criminal charge and application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal.

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.

NIMASA Fraud: EFCC Seeks Court Order To Seize Tompolo’s Property

TompoloThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is seeking a court order to seize all property belonging to former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo.

In the ex-parte motion filed by Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Festus Keyamo at the Federal High Court, Lagos , the Commission’s sought order is pursuant to Section 80 & 81 of the Administration and Criminal justice Act, 2015.

The EFCC said the property seizure was sought pending the arrest and arraignment of Tompolo before the court.

The following property were listed in the application: Property at N0. 1 Agbamu Close DDPA Extension Warri (Effurun), Delta State, All property of Mieka Dive Limited and Mieka Dive Training Institute Limited situated at No. 77, Lioth Street, ODPA Ugborikoko, Uvwie Local Government Area, of Delta State. All property of Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, All property of Muhaabix Global Services Limited and A River Crew Change Boat named MUHA – 15.

Others are: The property known as “Tompolo Dockyard”, by the end of Enerhen Road, Effurun, Warri, the 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 and another known as “Tompolo House” at Oporaza Town opposite the palace.

The former militant warlord was recently declared wanted by the anti-graft agency following his failure to appear before the court to face trial on the charges preferred against him.

Tompolo and the former Director of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi and eight others were accused by EFCC of converting about 34 billion Naira belonging to the agency for their personal use.

While the others including Akpobolokemi had appeared in court to answer to the 40 count charges filed against them by the anti-graft agency, Tompolo had failed to be in court twice which made the court grant an order for his arrest.

The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, handling the case, had on January 12 issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Tompolo.

Again on February, 8, the judge renewed his orders, and also directed all security agencies in Nigeria to produce Tompolo in court.

Court Renews Order For Tompolo’s Arrest

TompoloA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has renewed its order to all security agencies in Nigeria to compel the attendance in court of former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Justice Ibrahim Buba reiterated the order, while ruling on an application challenging the substituted service of a 40-count criminal charge on the accused.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed the 40-count charge against Tompolo, Patrick Akpobolokemi and eight others.

The charge borders on allegations of conversion and theft to the tune of over N13 billion.

Counsel for Tompolo, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, had filed an application on January 27 to challenge the service of the charges on his client based on a defect in the address of service.

The lawyer argued that the charge was effected on ‘Agbanu St’, rather than ‘Agbamu St.’ in Warri, Delta State. He urged the court to hold that service of the charge was not properly effected on the first accused.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Festus Keyamo, however opposed this application.

Justice Ibrahim Buba in his ruling dismissed the application and renewed his order compelling the attendance of Tompolo in court.

The court held that “the EFCC has the power to arrest anyone if it has reasonable belief that such person has committed an offence”.

The court specifically noted that one of the submissions of the EFCC before a warrant of arrest was issued, was that despite several invitations, Tompolo failed to show up to answer to the allegations made against him.

“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 Tompolo aware of the charges, he has further briefed counsel representing him, who on his behalf, demanded for all processes filed in the matter.

“Therefore, all the authorities cited on this issue are with respect, misconceived.

“The application challenging service is hereby dismissed.

“The order for arrest still subsist; and all authorities in Nigeria are further ordered to ensure that the order of this court for the arrest of Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo is carried out to the latter,” the court held.

Tompolo’s lawyer said that he would await further briefing from his client.

Meanwhile, counsel to the former Director General of NIMASA said that the EFCC was treating his clients and the other accused persons unfairly.

The court has adjourned till February 19 when all the accused persons are expected to be arraigned.

Edwin Clark Writes Buhari, Supports Actions Against Pipeline Vandals

Edwin ClarkAn Ijaw elder statesman, Mr Edwin Clark, has condemned the castigation and harassment of the people of the Niger Delta for increasing instability in the region, but supported any punishment that may be decided for persons behind recent pipeline vandalism.

In a letter dated, January 22, Mr Clark requested that President Muhammadu Buhari should investigate the humiliation of a former militant, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo.

A Federal High Court in Lagos had issued a bench warrant for the ex-Niger Delta militant after a council to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Festus Keyamo, said Mr Tompolo had consistently failed to honour invitations from the anti-graft agency.

The EFCC had asked Tompolo to appear on December 17, 2015 for questioning in respect of a 13 billion Naira land acquisition controversy for Nigerian Maritime University in Warri South-west Local Government Area (LGA) Delta State, with a threat to declare him wanted should he fail to appear.

In the letter, however, Mr Clark exonerated Tompolo from the recent attacks on pipelines in Niger delta, saying “he is a civilized Nigerian that can never be part of the renewed bombing of the pipes”.

The elder statesman pointed out in his letter that “the Niger delta region lays the golden egg, yet goes through humiliation and harassment by the government”.

“Except for one or two persons, no Niger Delta person or anyone from Ijawland owns an oil bloc, which are being controlled by other people from other regions,” he wrote.

He also condemned the renewed blowing up of major oil and gas pipelines by suspected militants in the Niger delta and urged the President to ensure that all the culprits were brought to book.

“I totally condemn the vandalism of oil and gas pipelines and will give you 100 per cent support for whatever action you take to bring the culprits to book. It is with heavy heart that I decided to take record of pipeline vandalism that have taken place within the last two years,” he wrote.

Mr Clark in his letter also requested that the President should look into the proposed scrapping of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Warri South West Local Government, Delta State established by former President Goodluck Jonathan and refund of the money already released for the project.

He further advised President Buhari to be wary of some persons around him, whom he said may be misinforming him and creating problems for him.