Former Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, who has been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for fraud related offences, lost in his bid to quash a Federal High Court, Lagos, ruling that empowered the EFCC to seize properties belonging to him.
A Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Thursday refused Tompolo’s application to set aside the seizure order.
Tompolo had filed an appeal asking the Appeal Court to quash the judgment of Justice I. N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, who had on February 19, 2016 made an order of seizure of Tompolo’s properties for failure to appear to answer fraud charges against him.
The EFCC had on December 15, 2015 instituted a criminal charge against Tompolo and nine others over allegations of fraud at Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
However, despite substituted service of the court summons effected on him, Tompolo refused to appear in court.
Consequently, Justice Buba issued a warrant of arrest against him. Armed with the warrant of arrest, the commission launched a manhunt for him, but could not effect his arrest.
On February 19, 2016, the EFCC, through its counsel, Festus Keyamo, prayed the court for an order attaching the properties of Tompolo by seizure, pending his arrest and/or appearance before the court.
The court granted the commission’s request prompting Tompolo to appeal against the decision.
However, in a unanimous judgment on Thursday, the Court of Appeal held that Tompolo cannot be heard complaining that his properties are attached by the Court below, when he has not come to answer to the summons against him.
The court held that the option available to Tompolo is to appear before the Federal High Court to apply for the order to be discharged, instead of filing the appeal.
The Court of Appeal was of the view that his private right of property has not been breached by the said order.