N45.9bn fraud: EFCC declares Tompolo wanted.
A former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, was on February 11 declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was contained in an advertorial signed by the anti-graft agency head of media and publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, the Punch reports.
Uwujaren explained that the decision was taken after Tompolo turned down two bench warrants issued against him by a Federal High Court in Lagos following charges bordering on N45.9bn fraud.
The EFCC in the advertorial, which had a picture of Tompolo described him as a 47-year-old, dark-complexioned man from Okerenkoko, Gbaramotu Kingdom in the Warri South-West local government area of Delta state.
The agency in the advertorial gave Tompolo’s address as No. 1, Chief Agbanu Street, DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta state, and also informed that he speaks both Izon and English language.
“The general public is hereby notified that Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo), whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in relation to the offence of conspiracy and illegal diversion of the sum of N34,000,000,000.00 and N11,900,000,000.00 belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency,” the advertorial read.
Daily Post reports that Tompolo is declared wanted in a case of conspiracy, illegal diversion of N34 billion, 11 billion and 900 million belonging to the Nigerian maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
A Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, on January 14 issued a bench warrant against the former militant leader after he refused to show up before the court on January 12, 2016 to answer the fraud charges leveled against him and nine others by the anti-graft agency.
The high court justice had earlier ordered the law enforcement agencies to produce Tompolo before him on February 8, but the former militant leader instead of appear before the court on January 8, filed an application seeking to vacated the bench warrant and arrest order.
Justice Buba threw out the application for lacking in merit and renewed the arrest warrant. He then ordered all the security agencies to make sure they bring Tompolo to the court on February 19.
Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), counsel to the now wanted Tompolo after a failed effort to quash the bench warrant, argued that it was not his duty to produce his client in court rather it was the responsibility of the prosecution counsel to produce the suspect in court for trial.
Tompolo and the immediate past Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, as well as others are slammed with a 40 counts of fraudulent activities.
The Niger Delta region had been in the news of late as several criticisms and warnings have been rolling out against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Some top leaders of the region as well as renowned groups have been advising and accusing Buhari’s government of all sort of unattainable matters.
A group, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI) had initially vowed to stand with Tompolo, who has been in hiding since a court ordered that he should be arrested. The order has allegedly sparked bombing of pipelines in the Niger Delta region by suspected militants who are loyal to the former leader.
Not long ago, popular Ijaw leader and former federal commissioner for information, Edwin Clark, wrote a letter to President Buhari to intervene in the alleged ‘humiliation and harassment’ of Niger Deltans.
A group under the aegis of the Ijaw Cultural Mandate had also raised the alarm over what it described as assaults by the administration of President Buhari on Ijaw leaders in the country, especially in Bayelsa state.