Efcc Arraigns Tompolo In Absentia Over Alleged N34b Nimasa Fraud
SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, (THEWILL) – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday arraigned Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo), a former Niger Delta militant leader, at the Federal High Court in Lagos in Lagos in absentia over N34billion fraud.
He was charged with Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Global West Vessel Specialist Limited; Odimiri Electricals Limited; Kemi Engozu; Boloboere Property and Estate Limited; Rex Elem; Destre Consult Limited; Gregory Mbonu and Captain Warredi Enisuoh.
EFCC, in the 40-count charge before Justice Ibrahim Buba, said the suspects allegedly diverted N34 billion, accrued from the public private partnership agreement between NIMASA and Global West Vessel Specialist, said to be owned by Tompolo, to private use to which the defendants, who were all present except Tompolo, pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Count one reads: “That you, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) now at large, Patrick Akpobolokemi, Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd, in 2012 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: Conversion of the sums of N601,516.13 and $1,766,428.62, property of NIMASA, knowing that the said sums were proceeds of stealing, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
Tompolo is also to be arraigned on another 22-count charge bothering on stealing, advanced fee fraud and money laundering involving about N22.7billion before Justice Buba, who has adjourned till April 18, with Akpobolokemi, and his four brothers – Victor, Nobert, Emmanuel and Clement – said to be at large, said to have allegedly aided the suspects to commit the fraud between December 12, 2014 and April 10, 2015.
Justice Ibrahim Buba had, on February 8, issued a bench warrant on Tompolo and held that the warrant of arrest issued for his arrest still subsists while Tompolo's lead counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), had sought to set aside the warrant of arrest, which the judge dismissed and re-issued a fresh warrant for Tompolo's arrest.
He further granted EFCC the power to seize all Tompolo's traceable assets pending his arrest or appearance in court for arraignment adding that the properties will be auctioned after three months beginning from February 19 when the order was made should Tompolo refuse to show up.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the other defendants urged Justice Buba to grant them bail in the most liberal terms.
Justice Buba, therefore, granted the defendants N50 million bail with one reliable surety in like sum while Enisuoh was granted bail for N10million with one surety.
“The defendants who are already on bail are to perfect their bail conditions within 24 hours or be remanded in prison. Those appearing before me for the first time should perfect their bail conditions today or be remanded in prison,” Justice Buba ruled and adjourned until May 23, 24, 25, and 26 for trial.
Story by David Oputah