June 17, 2016 has been fixed to hear the suit filed by a former Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemulopo, also known as Tompolo, against the Federal Government to stop proceedings against him in a fraud related case pending at a Federal High Court in Lagos.
In the suit filed through Tompolo’s lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, before Justice Olatoregun-Ishola, Tompolo is seeking an order restraining the Federal Government and its agencies from further proceeding with the N45.9bn fraud charges filed against him.
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Federal Government, the EFCC, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.
Tompol hd been declared wanted since February 12, 2016 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for refusal to come forward to answer the charges, alongside the former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Safety and Management Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi and other at a Federal High Court, Lagos.
Tompolo is thus seeking court’s protection against prosecution for the alleged fraud of N45.9bn in the agency.
The EFCC filed 40 counts against him and nine others before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the same court, but since late last year when the charges were filed, all efforts to make Tompolo appear to answer the charges had proved abortive.
He had shurned a summons issued on him to appear in court on February 14, 2016, making the Judge to issue a bench warrant against him and ordered his arrest.
The arrest warrant was later re-affirmed on February 8, after the Judge dismissed Tompolo’s application seeking to set aside the summons issued on him.
He subsequently went on appeal and asked Justice Buba to not only stay further proceedings in his case but to disqualify himself from the case.
Meanwhile, the EFCC declared him wanted in an advertorial on February 12 and subsequently obtained an order to seize all his known assets pending when he would yield himself to the court.
After an endless wait, the EFCC was later forced to separate Tompolo’s trial from that of his nine co-accused persons.
Tompolo’s counsel, Adegboruwa, is contending that sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which prohibits him from seeking a stay of proceedings in his trial, were infringing on his constitutional rights to fair hearing.
Tompolo is urging the court to not only nullify sections 221 and 306 of the ACJA but to also restrain the Federal Government, the EFCC and the IGP from deploying those sections of the law against him.
Adegboruwa argued that sections 221 and 306 were in conflict with Section 36 of the Constitution which guarantees his client’s right to fair hearing.