Court fixes Dec 12 to hear Tompolo’s suit against FG

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, fixed December 12, 2016 to decide whether or not to transfer a suit filed by wanted Niger Delta ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, against the Federal Government to the Court of Appeal.

Tompolo, who is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for an alleged N49.5 billion fraud, sued the Federal Government through his lawyer, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

Tompolo is seeking an order restraining the Federal Government and its agencies from further proceeding with the N45.9 billion fraud charges filed against him.

The defendants in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.

Adegboruwa claimed that sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which prohibited his client from seeking a stay of proceedings in his trial before Justice Ibrahim Buba, were infringing on his constitutional rights to fair hearing.

He is urging the court to nullify sections 221 and 306 of the ACJA and restrain the Federal Government and its agencies from deploying those sections of the law against Tompolo.

But the Federal Government, through the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami , had described Tompolo’s suit as an abuse of court processes and urged the court to dismiss it.

The AGF told Justice Olatoregun that a warrant had been issued for Tompolo’s arrest after he repeatedly spurned summons by the court to appear and answer the criminal charges filed against him.

“He failed and bluntly refused to present himself in court, thus leaving the court with no other option but to take measures at compelling him to appear,” the AGF said in an affidavit.

Malami maintained that sections 221 and 306 of the ACJA did not infringe on Tompolo’s rights to fair hearing.

The sections, he said, were made to ensure speedy and efficient justice delivery and prevent malicious delays and stalling of criminal cases by parties employing frivolous and time-wasting tactics to impede the course of justice.

Adegboruwa, however, filed an application, urging Justice Olatoregun to send the case to the Court of Appeal for determination.

But the EFCC and the AGF had urged Justice Olatoregun not to transfer the case to the Court of Appeal but to dismiss it.