Former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, has called on the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal to order Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos to withdraw from the fraud charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This disclosure was made known in a statement issued on Tuesday by one of his counsels, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.
Adegboruwa said that his client had since last Friday filed his appellant’s brief of argument before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, adding that Justice Buba is expected to cease action on the case in deference to the appellate court.
The anti-graft commission had charged Tompolo and nine others with an alleged fraud of N45.9bn before Justice Buba.
Since the 40 counts were filed by the EFCC against Tompolo and his co-suspects early January, efforts to arraign them had proved abortive as Tompolo had repeatedly shunned the summons issued on him to appear in court.
On two occasions Justice Buba had issued a bench warrant against Tompolo and ordered his arrest.
Tompolo, who had earlier contended that the summons were not properly served on him had on February 8 urged Justice Buba to set aside the warrant issued on January 14 for his arrest.
However, the judge rejected his application and re-validated the arrest warrant.
Not satisfied, through his lawyers, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and Adegboruwa, Tompolo headed for the Court of Appeal, seeking to set aside the arrest warrant.
The statement read: “In further demonstration of his commitment to the rule of law and due process, Tompolo filed his appellant’s brief of argument, through the law firms of Tayo Oyetibo, SAN and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Esq., on Friday, March 11, 2016, thus activating the judicial process for the prompt and effective determination of the said appeal.
“The consequence of this in law is that Tompolo’s case is now before the Court of Appeal, with the concomitant effect that the Federal High Court will willingly cede jurisdiction over Tompolo’s case, to the Court of Appeal, since the appeal has now been entered in the Court of Appeal.”
“Tompolo is thus asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the warrant for his arrest and vacate all subsequent proceedings emanating from the flawed process of the criminal charge.
“He is further seeking that the charge against him should be transferred from the current judge, to another judge of the Federal High Court.”