A Federal High Court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba in Lagos has granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission the power to seize some assets belonging to a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
This order was given after Tompolo refused to appear before the court. Tompolo has been served court summons which he refused to honour. He was asked to come and answer charges of N45.9bn fraud preferred against him and nine others by the EFCC.
The judge said if Tompolo failed to appear within three months of the order, the Federal Government may proceed to auction the said assets.
The assets of Tompolo which the EFCC was authorised to seize include his house located at No. 1, Chief Agbamu Close DDPA Extension Warri (Effurun), Delta State.
Others are a River Crew Change Boat named MUHA -15; “Tompolo Dockyard,” “Tompolo Yard,” the Diving School at Kurutie, at Escravos River; “Tompolo House” at Oporaza Town, opposite the Palace.
The judge said the EFCC may also seize any other assets it may later discover and verify to indeed belong to the former militant leader.
However, the judge refused to grant EFCC the power to seize four of Tompolo’s companies as he ruled that the company does not belong to one person.
Justice Buba noted that third parties had already appeared in court to oppose the seizure of the said companies.
The said companies are Mieka Dive Ltd.; Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd.; Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd.; and Muhaabix Global Services Ltd.
At the hearing on Friday, Tompolo’s lawyers, Messrs Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, were not in court.
Keyamo, while moving the application, said it would be in the interest of justice to grant it.
He said, “What is unfolding before our very eyes is something that has never been seen in this country for a very long time, where a citizen disparages the order of the court, briefs lawyers to appear for him but refuses to appear, keeps making disparaging statements against the judiciary.”
In his ruling Justice Buba said he found the application to be meritorious.
The judge held, “Sections 80 and 81(ACJA) provide that a judge or a magistrate can at any time, after action has been taken under Section 41 of this Act, for an application made in that regard after summons or warrant has been issued but disobeyed, order the attachment of any property, movable or immovable, or both belonging to a suspect, the subject of public summons or warrant, while Section 81 provides an order under Section 80 of this Act to authorise a public officer to attach any property belonging to the suspect within the area of jurisdiction of the judge”
It would be recalled that the EFCC filed 40 counts against Tompolo and nine others, including the immediate-past Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
The other suspects in the charge are Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Capt. Warredi Enisuoh.
The suspects were charged along with four companies, namely: Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.
The suspects were accused of diverting and converting to their personal use a sum of N34bn and N11.9bn belonging to NIMASA, an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.