The co-defendants in an alleged N45.9bn fraud charges filed against a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, have filed applications to quash the charges.
A defence counsel, Chief U. Nnaji, argued two applications seeking to quash the charges on Tuesday before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos, where the defendants are being prosecuted.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on March 22, 2016 arraigned the defendants before Justice Buba on 40 counts of alleged N45.9bn fraud.
The defendants in the case are Tompolo, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency; Patrick Akpobolokemi, Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Warredi Enisuoh.
Others are Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.
But while Akpobolokemi and the other defendants were arraigned on March 22, Tompolo, who had shunned a court’s summons served on him to appear in court, could not be arraigned.
Justice Buba consequently granted an application by the EFCC to separate Tompolo’s trial from that of the others before they were arraigned.
At the Tuesday’s proceedings, Nnaji, who is defending Engozu, informed Justice Buba of his client’s objection to the charges.
Nnaji argued that in filing the charges, the EFCC failed to comply with Section 3(a) of the Federal High Court Criminal Practice Direction.
He said the failure had rendered the charges against his client incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Nnaji added, “The charge is, therefore, incompetent as it violated this provision. It states that the complainant – the Federal Republic of Nigeria – shall not file a charge unless it is accompanied by a verifying affidavit.
“The failure to comply with this provision guarantees automatic loss of jurisdiction to this honourable court.”
Justice Buba adjourned further proceedings in the case till December 14.
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