Former Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, and six brothers of the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, were on Monday arrraigned in absentia by the Economicand Financial Crimes Commission on 22 counts of N47.6bn fraud..
Tompolo, Igo, Julius, Victor, Norbert, Emmanuel and Clement were declared as being “now at large” when the charges were read before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday.
But Akpobolokemi himself, two females – Josephine Otuaga and Rita Uruakpa – and one Kime Engozu, who were also listed as defendants in the amended charge, were present in court.
The other defendants in the charge in the case were five companies, namely: Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd/GTE; Oyeinteke Global Network Limited; Wabod Global Resources Ltd.; Boloboere Properties Estate Ltd.; Gokaid Marine Oil and Gas Ltd.; and Watershed Associated Resources.
The charges bordered on conspiracy, advanced fee fraud and money laundering.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves to defraud the Federal Government between December 2, 2014 and April 10, 2015,
by inducing the Federal Government to deliver an aggregate sum of N11.9bn to them.
The EFCC claimed that the accused persons induced the Federal Government by “falsely pretending to the Federal Government that a parcel of land and its appurtenances situated at Mieka Dive Training Institute, Kurutie, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State had been acquired by NIMASA for the temporary campus of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.”
By allegedly making fraudulent and false representations to the Federal Government, the EFCC said the defendants violated Section 1 (b) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other fraud related Offences Act, 2006 and were liable to punishment under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
In another count, the EFCC accused the defendants of fraudulently converting a sum of N13,027,564,822 belonging to NIMASA to their private own sometime in 2014.
The offence is said to be contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The defendants were also accused of swindling the Federal Government to the tune of N11.940bn, by presenting a forged Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy of Bendel State of Nigeria dated May 6, 2014 to NIMASA on the false claim that the forged document was genuine and issued by Warri South-West Local Council, Delta State.
For the alleged offence, the EFCC said the defendants were liable to being punished under Section 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
But Akpobolokemi and his alleged accomplices pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The presiding Judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, subsequently admitted them to bail.
Akpobolokemi, who had earlier been arraigned along with others by the EFCC at two different times before Justice Buba, was allowed to continue with a bail granted him by the Judge on March 22, 2016.
The case was adjourned till May 30 and 31, for hearing.