N46bn fraud: Court dismisses Tompolo’s suit against FG

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday dismissed the suit filed by Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, challenging a criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.

The EFCC had charged Tompolo alongside nine others for an alleged N45.9 billion fraud.

His lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, had approached the court seeking nullification of the charges.

He argued that the charges violate his constitutional right to fair hearing.

Joined as defendants in the suit are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; the Inspector-General of Police; the Chief of Army Staff; the Chief of Naval Staff; and the Chief of Air Staff.

In the application, Tompolo also argued that both Sections 221 and 306 of the ACJA are unconstitutional since they seek to prevent the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objection to a criminal charge.

Section 221 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, provides:

“objections shall not be taken or entertained during proceedings or trial on the ground of an imperfect or erroneous charge.”

Section 306 states that “an application for stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before a court shall not be entertained”.

The federal government, through its lawyer, Idris Mohammed, urged the court to dismiss the suit with a substantive cost, saying it is an abuse of court process.

Dismissing the suit, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held that the Supreme Court had affirmed that whether a charge is defective or not, an accused is bound to first take his plea.

He added that an interlocutory application could stop a criminal trial.

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