Home Nigeria Court Orders Tompolo’s Arrest Over Alleged N13b Fraud

Court Orders Tompolo’s Arrest Over Alleged N13b Fraud


The development came as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claimed to have a valid court order to detain the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, over an alleged N400 million fraud and other corruption-related crimes.

The Lagos court had summoned Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, to unconditionally appear yesterday to answer to a 40-count charge bordering on an alleged N13 billion fraud levelled against him by the EFCC. While all his co-accused, including a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, were present in court, Tompolo failed to appear.

The 40-count charge include the conversion of N601, 516.13 and $1, 766, 428.62, property of NIMASA, into private concerns; conversion of NIMASA’s N27,690,113.79 and $17, 491, 378.64, as well as N27, 690,113.79 and $17, 491, 378.64, belonging to the agency to personal use. The prosecutor claims the offence is contrary to section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.

The EFCC had explained that it rearrested the ex-NIMASA boss, Akpobolokemi, after he was granted bail by a competent court because of alleged fresh N34 billion fraud.

In view of Tompolo’s absence in court, the trial judge, Ibrahim Buba, issued the arrest warrant and ordered the police to produce him in court by all means. He adjourned the case to February 8, 2016 for arraignment.

On Metuh, the EFCC disclosed that it had already filed a seven-count criminal charge against the PDP’s spokesman and that he would soon be arraigned on the charges along with his family company, Destra Investment Limited, allegedly used in siphoning public funds. The charges which border on breach of trust, criminal diversion of public funds and money laundering were filed against the PDP chieftain at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who confirmed this to journalists yesterday at the Federal High Court in Abuja said that contrary to the insinuation that Metuh was being held unlawfully, the commission had obtained an order of a court in line with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, approving the detention of the politician pending the completion of investigations into the allegations made against him.

According to Rotimi, under the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the EFCC operatives have powers to hold a suspect in line with a court order.

He said: “It is arrant nonsense for anybody or group to say that the suspect is being detained illegally for political reasons. EFCC is established by law and as such, cannot take the laws into its own hand. The truth is that there is a valid and subsisting court order that permitted the detention of the man.
“The order was issued by the court based on the avalanche of documentary evidence placed before the court and the need to complete the interrogation diligently before coming to court to arraign him properly.”

On the enforcement of fundamental rights suit brought against the EFCC by Metuh, the EFCC counsel stated that the commission had just been served with the originating summons and that in line with the provisions of the law, the agency had five days to respond to all issues raised in the suit and that the court had graciously adjourned the matter to January 20, 2016 to enable them to file their response to the suit.

The counsel to Metuh, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), however, complained that his client was being held illegally by the EFCC because of the failure to arraign him in court within the time stipulated by law. He is therefore asking the court to compel the EFCC to either release his client on administrative bail or charge him to court as required by law.

But the senator representing Plateau North District and immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Jonah David Jang, who was invited on Wednesday by the EFCC to appear before it yesterday was let off the hook, temporarily.
According to sources close to the EFCC yesterday, Jang, on arriving at the commission’s headquarters, was asked to go upstairs, but his aides and others were not allowed to go with him. While upstairs, the anti-corruption body expressed regret for asking Jang to appear within 24 hours, explaining that they normally give whoever is their ‘visitor’ enough time to prepare very well so that the question of “I have no time to prepare does not arise.”

The sources said that at that point, Jang was asked to go for the time being, with a promise that when needed again, he would be notified appropriately and given enough time to prepare. The sources noted that the senator was not even asked any question.

Meanwhile, a Lagos-based human rights activist and lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has withdrawn the enforcement of fundamental human rights suit he filed on behalf of Metuh, against the EFCC before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Adegboruwa, in a statement released yesterday, said he did not seek Metuh’s consent to file the suit and had since realised that the politician had filed a similar suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The lawyer had on Monday, January 11, 2016 filed an application before the court challenging the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and EFCC for continued detention of Metuh, arguing that the incarceration was a violation of his fundamental rights without being arraigned in court.



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