Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State, has dismissed a fundamental rights enforcement application by Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, challenging the freezing of his account and threats of arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice E. A. Obile upheld the preliminary objection by the EFCC and struck out the matter on the grounds that it could not sit on appeal over an order made by a Lagos State High Court, and could not also restrain the EFCC from inviting or prosecuting the applicants.
The EFCC had frozen a bank account allegedly belonging to Tompolo in May.
It was learnt that the anti-graft agency found N3bn in the account and had frozen it pending the outcome of court processes.
A detective at the anti-graft agency who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said, “During investigations into the fraud at NIMASA (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency), we traced about N3bn to a bank account which is owned by Tompolo.
“The account has since been frozen in accordance with Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 which empowers the commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes.”
Tompolo, who has been on the run since February, was arraigned in absentia alongside a former Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and the latter’s six brothers on April 18, 2016 over an alleged N47.7bn fraud.
The anti-graft agency had arraigned the suspects before a Federal High Court in Lagos on 22 counts bordering on fraud, conversion of money and forgery.
The EFCC in charge number FHC/L/C/31c/2016, alleged that the accused persons had sometime in 2014, within the jurisdiction of the court with an intent to defraud, conspired among themselves and obtained the total sum of N47,683,464,822 from the Federal Government.
The accused persons also alleged to have between May 6, 2014, and December 2, 2014, forged and uttered a Certificate of Customary Rights of Occupancy of the old Bendel State of Nigeria, and purportedly issued same to NIMASA, claiming that it was issued by the Warri South Local Government Council, Delta State, to the prejudice of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
They were also alleged to have received sum of N11,900,000,000 from the Federal Government, by falsely pretending that all the land and its appurtenances lying and situated at Mieka Diva Training Institute, Kurutie, Warri South council area Delta State, be acquired by the NIMASA, for the temporary campus of Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Warri South, council area is from encumbrance.