A former militant leader declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has sued the Nigerian government seeking an end to his trial for alleged fraud.
Government Ekpemupolo (also known as Tompolo) is asking the Federal High Court, Lagos, for an interpretation and nullification of sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, adding that the said sections violated his constitutional rights.
Mr. Ekpemupolo had, in February, headed to the Court of Appeal seeking to set aside the warrant of arrest issued against him.
He also asked that the charges against him be transferred to a different judge.
The former militant leader, who is still at large, and Patrick Akpobolokemi, the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are accused of a multibillion naira fraud at the agency.
Others charged alongside them are Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd, Odimiri Electrical Ltd, Kime Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Ltd, Rex Elem, Destre Consult Ltd, Gregory Mbonu, and Captain Warredi Enisuoh.
A federal court had, on January 14, issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Ekpemupolo after he shunned an invitation to appear before the court.
On February 8, Justice Ibrahim Buba renewed the arrest warrant and a few days later, the EFCC declared Mr. Ekpemupolo wanted.
At the last court sitting, on February 19, the Commission told Justice Ibrahim Buba that the whereabouts of the ex-militant leader remained unknown.
Last month, with the EFCC still unable to apprehend Mr. Ekpemupolo, the agency separated the charged and arraigned his co-accused of conspiracy to commit fraud amounting to over N35 billion.
In his fresh suit before the federal high court, Mr. Ekpemupolo, through his lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, stated that sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, are invalid and unconstitutional.
Section 221 of the law states that: “Objections shall not be taken or entertained during proceedings or trial on the ground of an imperfect or erroneous charge.”
According to Section 306: “An application for stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before a court shall not be entertained.”
Mr. Ekpemupolo said the sections prevented the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objection to a criminal charge and an application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal.
“He is thus asking the court to stop his further trial until the determination of these issues,” said Mr. Adegboruwa.
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, the EFCC, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, and the Chief of Air Staff.
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