Emmanuel Jakpa, a lawyer, has said the judiciary has vindicated his client, Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, following his acquittal in a N34 billion billion alleged fraud case.
Tompolo, a former Niger Delta militant leader, was on Wednesday acquitted by a Federal High Court, Lagos, of a 40-count charge of alleged money laundering, conspiracy, stealing and diversion of funds filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Ibrahim Buba, the trial judge, upheld the no-case submission filed by Tompolo and others charged alongside him.
Jakpa in a statement issued on Wednesday said the EFCC wasted four years in prosecuting his client, despite the anti-graft agency knowing that there was no case or criminal charge to answer to.
The statement read: “Today, after more than 4 years of malicious prosecution, the truth has finally come forth – the EFCC had no case. Today, the Federal High Court decision vindicated my clients including High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo on all counts of offences alleged.
“There was indeed no case to answer ab initio and the prosecution knew it. Two cases were decided today and both of them were integral to the progress of this nation, sadly the prosecution chose to put personal animus above public good.”
The lawyer insisted that the EFCC wasted its resources in scrutinising a public-private partnership agreement as there was no dispute between the Federal Government-owned Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Global West Vessels Speicalists Limited.
“This was a contract in which Global West had invested well over $70 Million and the Federal Government had invested nothing. The PPPA provided that Global West was to provide 20 vessels but it had exceeded that number. The sad commentary on this case is that the Federal Government has had to invest the sum of $70M in a foreign company to provide essentially the same service, less effectively.
“What is more the Global West model had already begun to benefit the Federal Government after less than 1 year, in the case of the foreign company it is now 4 years and nothing has been heard other than that it was paid $70M.
“Recently no less a person than the new DG of NIMASA said that the Global West contract raised the Agency’s revenue profile from about $10m PER ANNUM to $19.5M per month which is equivalent to $234M PER ANNUM! He said, it was from this increase that Global West was paid for its services.
“Yet the Prosecutors went to court to essentially try a civil dispute [where there was none] as a criminal matter,” the statement read.
Jakpa also wondered why the anti-graft agency prosecuted the former Niger Delta militant leader over the take over of the land hosting the temporary campus for the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State by Mieka Dive Training Institute, a private dive training institute.
He insisted that the agreement for the transfer of land ownership to the private institute, of which Tompolo is the majority shareholder, was vetted by the Due Process Office of the Presidency.
He stated that the N13 billion alleged fraud slammed on Tompolo over the land was unnecessary as the EFCC “without any dispute alleged by NIMASA” went to court, adding that the prosecutors failed to write to the Local Government Council which issued the land’s Certificate of Occupancy to determine whether the document was geninue or fake.
Jakpa claimed that Festus Keyamo, SAN (now Minister of State for Labour and Productivity) and Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecutors, did a shoddy job, and advocated that the two lawyers be prosecuted for absuing public trust.
“As I speak to you today, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo who signed the charge sheet as prosecutors have still not written to the appropriate authority to verify the (land) document, but they proceeded to file a charge. That is either reckless or deliberate.
The interesting this is that under S. 20 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, which these two gentlemen preferred their charge, a false pretence “means a representation whether deliberate or reckless, made by word or in writing or by conduct of matter of fact or law, whether past or present which is false in fact or law…”
“So technically, whatever Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN was paid for prosecuting this case was money obtained by false pretences. He was either deliberate or reckless for alleging that a public document was a forgery when he had not even made any effort to verify it.
“If I were in my client’s shoes I would not hesitate to proceed on malicious prosecution against those involved. Such an action is necessity for the public good – because it holds to account holders of high office and ensures that they do not abuse the public trust,” the statement read.
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