By LUKMAN OLABIYI
THE wanted ex- Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) Friday forfeited his multi- billion naira properties to Federal Government (FG).
The embattled former militant warlord was recently declared wanted by the anti-graft agency following his failure to appear before the court to face trial on the charge preferred against him.
Tompolo and the former Director of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi and eight others were accused by EFCC of converting the money belonging to the agency to personal use.
While the others including Akpobolokemi had appeared in court to answer the 40-count charge filed against them by the anti- graft agency, Tompolo had failed to be in court twice, which made the court order his arrest.
The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba handling the case had on January, 12 issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Tompolo.
Again on February, 8, the judge renewed his orders, and also directed all security agencies to produce Tompolo in court.
In the ex-parte motion filed by Festus Keyamo, the EFCC seek an order in pursuant of Section 80 and 81 of the Administration and Criminal justice Act, 2015 to seize all properties belonging to the former Niger Delta militant leader.
At the resumed hearing of the case Friday, Justice Buba ordered the forfeiture of multi-billion naira properties belonging to Tompolo following his refusal to appear in court.
Properties to be forfeited include; a River Crew Change Boat named MUHA – 15, the property known as “Tompolo Dockyard”, by the end of Enerhen Road, Effurun, Warri and the property known as, “Tompolo Yard”, at the end of Chevron Clinic Road, next to Next Oil, Edjeba, Warri.
Others are the Diving School at Kurutie, at Escravos River, the property known as “Tompolo House” at Oporaza Town, opposite the Palace and any other property discovered by the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, moveable and immoveable, belonging to Tompolo.
Counsel to EFCC, Keyamo told the court that the warrant of arrest issued by the court has not been executed despite the “best efforts” of all the security agencies in the country.
He stated that all the nation’s security agencies were involved in the search of Tompolo but his whereabouts are not known yet.
Consequently, he sought the leave for court to amend the charge by removing the name of Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo from the charge, so that the trial of other accused persons could commence.
Keyamo also drew the attention of the court to a Motion Exparte dated February 18, 2016 praying the court for an order authorising EFCC to seize properties belonging to the former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo.
But, virtually all the defence counsel opposed the Motion Exparte on the grounds that they were not served with copies of the motion.
Dr. Joseph Nwobike SAN (counsel to the 2nd defendant), Mr. Wale Akoni SAN (counsel to 7 & 8 defendants) along with other defence lawyers argued that it is necessary for them to have copies of the motion exparte in the interest of justice and fairness.