Tompolo loses bid to stop N46bn NIMASA fraud trial

Tompolo

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday dismissed the suit filed an ex-militant, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, challenging a criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.

Tompolo, through his lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, had approached the court seeking nullification of Section 221 and 306 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, under which he was charged.

He argued that the two sections violate his constitutional right to fair hearing.

Joined as defendants in the suit are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, and the Chief of Air Staff.

In the application, Tompolo also argued that both Sections 221 and 306 of the ACJA are unconstitutional since they seek to prevent the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objection to a criminal charge.

Section 221 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, provides “objections shall not be taken or entertained during proceedings or trial on the ground of an imperfect or erroneous charge.”

Section 306 states that “an application for stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before a court shall not be entertained”.

Responding to Tompolo’s application, the federal government, through its lawyer, Idris Mohammed, urged the court to dismiss the suit with a substantive cost, saying it is an abuse of court process.

Dismissing the suit, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held that the Supreme Court had affirmed that whether a charge is defective or not, an accused is bound to first take his plea.

He added that an interlocutory application could stop a criminal trial.

The judge, however, did not award any cost against the plaintiff.

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the same court had on January14, 2016, issued a warrant for the arrest of Tompolo, after he failed to show up for his trial.

The EFCC had charged Tompolo alongside nine others for an alleged N45.9 billion fraud committed at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).    

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