Court to rule in Tompolo’s case against FG Dec 12

A Federal High Court in Lagos has 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.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun fixed the date after entertaining arguments from the parties on Tuesday.

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

He is seeking an order restraining the Federal Government and its agencies from further proceeding with the N45.9bn 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 (SAN), 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.

He said, “In the course of further review of facts of this case, it transpired that the legal issues arising from the originating motion of the applicant are very recondite and novel as there have not been concrete apex court decisions on them and they also affect and will affect many criminal and civil cases all over Nigeria where the Administration of Criminal Justice Act is being applied.”

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

The judge fixed December 12 to take a position on the case.