Alleged NIMASA Fraud: Tompolo Challenges Constitutionality of His Trial

TompoloThe former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo has instituted a suit before a Lagos Federal High Court, seeking an interpretation and nullification of certain sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015, which he claimed affected his constitutional rights.

Joined as respondents in the suit are: the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.

It will be recalled that Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Court had on January 14, 2016, issued a warrant for the arrest of Tompolo over his refusal to appear in court to answer to the fraud charges preferred against him and others by the anti-graft agency.

On January 27, 2016, Tompolo filed an application before the court to set aside the said warrant of arrest and on February 8, 2016, the said application was argued and dismissed by the Court.

Tompolo thereafter filed an appeal against the ruling of the Court, on February 18, 2016. Tompolo’s appeal was entered at the Court of Appeal on March 3, 2016.

Tompolo in the new suit is challenging Sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act are invalid and unconstitutional.

Tompolo claimed that the sections, seeks to prevent the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objection to a criminal charge and an application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal. Thus, he asking the Court to stop his further trial until the determination of these issues.

In the new suit marked, FHC/L/CS/499/2016, Tompolo is seeking the following reliefs from the court:
“A declaration that Section 221 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, is to the extent that it seeks to be an absolute bar to any objection to a criminal charge or information, already filed, especially Charge No.FHC/L/553C/2015 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) & 9 Ors., and Charge No. FHC/L/31C/2016 – Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Ekpemupolo Chief Government Oweize & 12 others, or to be filed against the applicant, constitutes a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6) as well the inherent powers of a court of law under Section 6(6)(a)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

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“A declaration that section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 is to the extent that it seeks to be an absolute bar to an application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal to a higher court, in relation to a criminal charge or information, already filed, especially Charge No.FHC/L/553C/2015 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) & 9 Ors., Charge No. FHC/L/31C/2016 – Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Ekpemupolo Chief Government Oweize & 12 Ors., or to be filed against the applicant, constitutes a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6) ) as well the inherent powers of a court of law under Section 6(6)(a)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

“A declaration that the first, second and third respondents, are not entitled to deploy, use, cite or in any other manner rely upon sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 in the prosecution of any criminal charge or information, already filed, especially Charge number FHC/L/553C/2015 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) & 9 others, Charge No. FHC/L/31C/2016 – Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Ekpemupolo Chief Government Oweize & 12 others, or any other criminal charge or information, to be filed, against the applicant, in any manner that will constitute a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

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“A declaration that the Respondents are not entitled to file, initiate, prosecute or in any other manner pursue any criminal charge or information, against the applicant, in any manner that will constitute a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6)) as well the inherent powers of a court of law under Section 6(6)(a)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“An Injunction restraining the first, second and thirrd respondents whether by themselves or by their servants, agents or privies or otherwise howsoever, from filing or further filing, prosecuting or further prosecuting, any criminal charge or information, especially Charge No.FHC/L/553C/2015 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) & 9 others, Charge No. FHC/L/31C/2016 – Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Ekpemupolo Chief Government Oweize and 12 others, against the applicant, the prosecution of which may constitute a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“An injunction restraining the Respondents whether by themselves or by their servants, agents or privies or otherwise howsoever, from initiating, filing, prosecuting or further prosecuting any criminal charge or information, against the applicant, which may constitute a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“An order nullifying, voiding, striking down and expunging sections 221 and 306 from the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to the extent of their inconsistency with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

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The matter has not been assigned to any judge and no date has been fixed for the hearing.

It would be recalled that following Tompolo’s continued refusal to appear in court to answer to the 40-counts fraud charge preferred against him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has removed his name from the charge.

It was gathered that the anti-graft agency carried out the action to allow others charged alongside Tompolo face their trial.

The EFCC said Tompolo will be brought to justice anytime he was apprehended by security operatives.
Following the withdrawal of Tompolo’s name from the charge, other accused persons were arraigned on a 40-counts charge by the EFCC before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Those arraigned by the commission over a 40-counts of alleged unlawful conversion included the immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi.

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

They were alleged to have converted the sums of $108.7m and N2.1billion, being the property of NIMASA and knowing that the said sum were proceeds of stealing.


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