Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, directed security agencies in the country to compel the attendance in court of ex-Niger Delta militant, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), charged with N13 billion theft by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
EFCC had filed a 40-count charge against Tompolo and nine others – Patrick Akpobolokemi, Global West Vessel, Odimiri Electrical Ltd, Kime Engozu, Boloboere Ltd, Rex Elem, Destre Ltd, Gregory Mbon and Captain Warrendi Enisuoh.
At yesterday’s hearing in the matter, Tompolo, through his counsel, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, informed the court of an application filed on January 27, challenging service of the charge based on a defect in the address of service.
He said that the charge was served on Agbanu St, instead of Agbamu St, Warri, Delta State.
Oyetibo added that the residence of the accused in Warri has a black gate but that service was effected on a residence with see-through gate.
The prosecutor, however, opposed the application on the grounds that by the provisions of section 96 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, such an application cannot be adjourned for hearing.
Ruling on the application, Justice Buba dismissed the application and ordered Tompolo’s attendance in court.
The court said, “The entire gamut of this application is for the court to set aside the order granting substituted service of the charge. The first defendant missed the point completely. The law is that any body like the EFCC has the power to arrest anyone if it has reasonable belief that such person has committed an offence.
“On January 12 when the application for substituted service was moved, one of the averment was that the applicant was invited by the EFCC to answer to some allegations, but up till today he has not deemed it fit to honour the invitation.
“It is very clear that the order for substituted service is more than justified against a man who has refused to honour lawful invitation by the EFCC.
“The order for arrest still subsists. All authorities in Nigeria are hereby further ordered to ensure that the order of this court for the arrest of Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) is carried out to the latter.”