The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, arraigned former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) in absentia over alleged N35 billion fraud.
Arraigned alongside Tompolo were former boss of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, Global West Vessel Ltd, Odimiri Electrical Ltd, Kime Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Ltd, Rex Elem, Destre Consult Ltd, Gregory Mbonu, and Captain Warredi Enisuoh . More after the cut…
Earlier arraignment of the accused persons had been stalled due to the inability of the EFCC to arrest Tompolo. At the last court sitting, last month, Festus Keyamo, counsel to EFCC, requested for an adjournment to enable him separate the charges , leaving out Tompolo, who would face a separate charge when arrested.
In the new charge, Mr. Akpobolokemi, Global West Vessel Ltd, Odimiri Electrical Ltd, Kime Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Ltd, Rex Elem, Destre Consult Ltd, Gregory Mbonu, and Captain Warredi Enisuoh are accused of conspiring to commit the fraud between 2012 and 2015. They all pleaded not guilty.
The accused persons’ lawyers prayed the court to grant their clients bail “in the most liberal terms.” Keyamo did not oppose the bail applications. Trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, granted bail to all the accused persons, except Mr. Enisuoh, in the sum of N50 million with “one reliable surety in like sum.” Mr. Enisuoh, who was charged in two out of the 40 counts, totalling N8 million, received a N10 million bail with one surety.
“The defendants who are already on bail are to perfect their bail conditions within 24 hours or be remanded in prison. “Those appearing before me for the first time should perfect their bail conditions today or be remanded in prison,” the judge said.
Justice Buba adjourned till May 23, 24, 25 and 26 for trial. The judge also adjourned till April 18, for arraignment on another 22-count charge of fraud involving Tompolo, Akpobolokemi and about 11 others.
Speaking to journalists outside the courtroom, Mr. Keyamo said Tompolo would be charged separately “when we get him.” “It is the duty of the security agencies and they are still making efforts to get him. He is on the run and he cannot continue to be on the run for ever. We will get him.”
It will be recalled that a Federal High Court on January 14, issued a warrant for Tompolo’s arrest, after he allegedly shunned an invitation to appear before the EFCC last December, has lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos, praying the court to vacate the order for his arrest made by the lower court.