BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
The absence of Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday stalled judgement of a suit filed by former Niger Delta militant, Chief Government Ekpemulopo, alias Tompolo, challenging the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to try him.
Justice Olatoregun, who is said to be attending a workshop outside Lagos, has now fixed July 14 to deliver the judgement.
The former militant had approached the court through a fundamental rights enforcement suit, seeking the protection of the court against prosecution for an alleged N45.9 billion fraud.
Tompolo, who was on February 12, 2016 declared wanted by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the same court, joined the EFCC, Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff as respondents in the suit.
While adopting his processes at the last sitting of the court, counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo had maintained that Tompolo is a “fugitive” in law, and so, should not be allowed to seek redress from the court until he submits himself for trial.
Oyedepo also submitted that given the materials placed before the court, it is clear that the applicant is in clear contempt of the order of Justice Ibrahim Buba, who had earlier compelled his attendance in court to answer to charges preferred against him.
The lawyer insisted that the application is an abuse of court process, since it is trite in law that a party who is in contempt of court cannot seek redress; he invited the court to throw out the application for lacking in merit.
Oyedepo further argued that in his originating processes, the applicant had ridiculously and in contradiction of his claims, annexed a copy of his notice of appeal signed personally by him.
He submitted that if the applicant feigns ignorance of the charge, how then was he able to brief his counsel on the charge for an appeal to be filed thereof.