For “failing to establish a prima facie case”, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday, lose its battle to send High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, a company linked to the former militant leader to jail.
This comes as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos dismissed the entire 40 counts charges bordering on alleged N34 billion fraud filed against him and others.
The court, also acquitted three other firms – Odimiri Electrical Limited; Boloboere Property and Estate Limited; and Destre Consult Limited who were also defendants in the criminal case filed by the EFCCin 2015.
A former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpolokemi; Kime Engozu; Rex Elem; Gregory Mbonu; and Warredi Enisuoh,were also parties in the suit.
According to reports, Tompolo who was initially joined as the first defendant in the suit, was removed from the charge sheet after he failed to appear in court despite the fact that the judge issued beach warrant of arrest against him.
Delivering his judgment on the long-drawn case, Mr Buba upheld the defendants’ ‘no-case submission’, saying the prosecution “failed to establish a prima facie case” against them.
He said that the defendants have no case against them and thereafter struck out entire charges.
According to EFCC’s charges, the defendants allegedly conspired among themselves to divert various sums running into over N34bn, belonging to NIMASA to their personal use.
The EFCC had argued that 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.”
Prior to their acquittals, the defendants had, during their arraignment four years ago, all pleaded not guilty to the charges.