• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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N34bn fraud: Court issues bench warrant on Tompolo


Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has issued a warrant of arrest on Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) over his failure to appear before the court to answer to charges of money laundering preferred against him by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The warrant of arrest is sequel to Tompolo’s refusal to honour the court summon. The EFCC had earlier secured an order of court to serve the defendant through substituted means by affixing the summon and charge at his last known address in Warri, Delta State.

At the hearing of the matter, Joseph Nwobike, counsel to the second accused person, Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), pleaded with the court to give Tompolo more time as he was only served with the summon yesterday.

But Justice Buba averred that the reason why the summon was ordered in the first place was to compel the suspect to appear in court and defend the charge against him, since he had consistently refused to honour invitations sent to him by the prosecution.

Festus Keyamo, prosecuting counsel, told the court that after series of invitations were extended to him, Tompolo responded by placing an advertisement in the newspaper warning the EFCC not to push him to war.

Justice Buba granted the request of the prosecution by issuing a warrant for the arrest of the suspect, noting that “compelling the presence or attendance of accused person or defendant in court is to serve him with summon to appear.

“Where he fails to appear in obedience to the summon, the other process to compel his attendance is by way of arrest,” he said.

Tompolo, alongside nine others including Patrick Akpobolokemi, are facing a 40-count charge of alleged money laundering, conspiracy, stealing and diversion of funds before a Federal High Court, Lagos.

Others are Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electricals Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.

The defendants are said to have fraudulently converted the fund that accrued from the public private partnership agreement between NIMASA and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited for personal use.

The case was adjourned to February 8, for arraignment.