There appears to be more troubles for fugitive former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, as the Appeal Court on Friday ordered temporary forfeiture of his assets to the Federal Government over his evasion of court summons to answer fraud charges.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos dismissed an appeal filed by him, seeking to set aside the decision of the Federal High Court, Lagos which empowered the EFCC to attach all the assets belonging to the ex-militant. Justice Ibrahim N. Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on February 19, 2016 made an order attaching Tompolo’s properties for failure to appear to answer the charges against him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on December 15, 2015 instituted a criminal charge against Tompolo and nine others over allegations of fraud at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
However, despite substituted service of the court summons effected on him, Tompolo refused to appear in court. Consequently, Justice Buba issued a warrant of arrest against him. Armed with the warrant of arrest, the EFCC launched a manhunt for him, but could not effect his arrest.
On February 19, 2016, the Commission, through its counsel, Festus Keyamo, SAN, prayed the Court for an order attaching the properties of Tompolo by seizure, pending his arrest or appearance before the Court.
The court granted the Commission’s request prompting Tompolo to appeal against the decision. However, in a unanimous judgment yesterday, the Court of Appeal held that Tompolo cannot be heard complaining that his properties are attached by the Court below, when he has not come to answer to the summons against him.
The court held that the option available to Tompolo is to appear before the Federal High Court to apply for the order to be discharged, instead of filing the appeal. The Court of Appeal was of the view that his private right of property has not been breached by the said order.