The Federal High Court on Wednesday in Lagos struck out the N34bn fraud case filed against Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, a company owned by former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo by the Federal Government.
Defendants in the case were former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpolokemi, Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Warredi Enisuoh.
Three other firms – Odimiri Electrical Limited; Boloboere Property and Estate Limited; and Destre Consult Limited – were also defendants in the criminal case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2015.
The Justice Ibrahim Buba led Court in its ruling dismissed the 40 counts charge against for failure of the prosecution “to establish a prima facie case” against the defendants.
In the case, which was filed against the defendants by the EFCC through its lawyer Festus Keyamo, SAN, the anti-graft agency had accused the defendants of conspiring among themselves to divert various sums running into over N34bn, belonging to NIMASA for their personal use.
The EFCC said they acted contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
The first count of the amended 40 counts read, “That you, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), Patrick Akpobolokemi and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited in 2012, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N601, 516.13 and $1,766,428.62, property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, knowing that the said sums were proceeds of stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
All the defendants had during their arraignment four years ago pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Tompolo was initially joined as the first defendant in the case, but following his refusal to answer repeated court summonses, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), who handled the case for the EFCC, had to apply to the court that Tompolo’s name be removed from the charge sheet.