Former Nger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, has filed an application before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos to quash the warrant of arrest issued against him on January 14, 2016.
Through his lawyers, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Tompolo is seeking an order of the court to set aside the warrant of arrest issued against him, on the claim that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) did not serve him with the summons and the charge sheet.
Justice Buba had on January 14 issued a bench warrant against Tompolo and ordered his arrest for failing to honour a court summons dated January 12 in respect of a 40-count of alleged N34bn fraud levelled against him and nine others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
All his co-accused persons were in court with their lawyers, butbTompolo was absent and was not represented by any lawyer.
The EFCC prosecutor, Festus Keyamo, had then applied under Section 131 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 for an order to arrest Tompolo and bring him to court to answer the charges against him.
While granting the order, Justice Buba had said there was a proof that the EFCC had served the summons and the charge sheet on Tompolo by pasting them on the wall of his residence at No. 1, Chief Agbanu DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State.
The Judge hsd therefore ordered that Tompolo should be arrested and produced in court on February 8 to answer the charges.
However, in the application, Tompolo described as fictitious the address known as No.1, Chief Agbanu DDPA Extention, Warri, Delta State, where the EFCC said it pasted the summons and the charge sheet.
“In the history or geography of Warri or its environs no such street name is known,” Tompolo claimed.
His lawyers also argued that the application filed by the EFCC to obtain the order for substituted service was incompetent because it did not bear the seal of the legal practitioner who signed it.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application, one, Nsikan Udo, who was the deponent, claimed that Tompolo’s resided at No. 13 Chief Agbamu Close, DDPA Extension, Warri (Effurun), Delta State and not No. 1, Chief Agbamu DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State where the summons and the charge sheet were pasted by the EFCC.
The deponent claimed that as of January 11 when the EFCC went to paste the court papers, Tompolo was at “a premises known as No. 1 Chief Agbamu Lane DDPA Extension, Warri (Effurun), Delta State throughout the week beginning from 11th January 2016.”
“The gate of the premises known as No. 1 Chief Agbamu Close, DDPA Extension, Warri (Effurun), Delta is black in colour and is not perforated nor does it have a see-through, reddish/brown gate with iron bars shown in Exhibit GE4,” Udo claimed.
Tompolo is therefore seeking, among others, “an order setting aside the warrant for the arrest of the 1st accused person/applicant (Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo) issued by this court on 14th January 2016 pursuant to the purported service of the summons and the criminal charge instituted in this case on the applicant.”
Adegboruwa, in a statement, however, said his client was prepared to willingly come to court to answer any charges preferred against him.
He also said the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff and the Navy had been notified of Tompolo’s application, “so that overzealous persons do not take advantage of the court process to attempt to trample on his legal rights.”
The EFCC is accusing Tompolo and nine others of conspiring to divert various sums running into over N34bn, stolen from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to their personal use.