A FEDERAL High Court in Lagos has ordered the arrest of Government Ekpemupolo, a former Niger Delta militant leader who is popularly known as Tompolo, for his failure to appear before the court on Thursday, January 14, to answer 30 counts of alleged N34billion fraud.
Justice Ibrahim Buba, presiding judge, issued a bench warrant against Tompolo and ordered that he must be produced in court on February 8, by all means to answer the charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has charged Tompolo and Patrick Akpobolokemi, former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, alongside eight others.
Justice Buba had, in chambers on Tuesday, January 12, made an order compelling Tompolo to unconditionally appear before him on Thursday, January 14, to answer to the charges.
But while all the other accused, including Akpobolokemi who came on crutches, were in court with their lawyers on Thursday, Tompolo was absent and did not send a representative.
When the matter was called, Festus Keyamo, EFCC prosecutor, informed the court that despite the fact that the summons was issued in Lagos late on Tuesday, the EFCC successfully pasted it on the wall of the 1, Chief Agbanu DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State’s house of the former militant on Wednesday, January 13.
Keyamo also provided the court with a photographic evidence of the pasting of the summons.
He noted that despite the summons being served on Tompolo as directed by the judge, Tompolo still did not appear in court.
He, thus, applied for a warrant of arrest for Tompolo on behalf on his client.
Keyamo added, “The first accused person has consistently, even at the point of investigations, spurned all invitations to make statement to the commission.
“We have extended an invitation to him to come and answer charges, but like an outlaw, he put out a full page advert, saying that nobody should push him to war; in a country with laws!
“The judiciary will not take such nonsense from anybody in a country governed by law and that is why we are applying for a warrant for his arrest to let us know if he is an outlaw.”
Responding to Keyamo’s statement, Joseph Nwobike, counsel for Akpobolokemi, pleaded with the court to give Tompolo more rope to pull as he was only served on Wednesday.
Nwobike, who clarified that he was not representing Tompolo, said the court might give Tompolo until Friday, January 15, to comply with the order in the interest of justice.
— Jan 25, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT