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What I think of Tompolo’s case and why I’m ready to defend him

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*Offer of free legal services to Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo)

Press Statement: We find quite troubling the manner in which the government case against Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) has proceeded. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has pursued Tompolo in ways and manners that demonstrated malice and ill-will. 

Most disturbing, the EFCC has shown clear abuse of its powers, as well as the powers of the Nigerian state. We find particularly alarming the unprecedented effort to railroad Tompolo.

The media utterances and aggressive steps taken by the EFCC since the commencement of this dispute are quite tendentious and distinctly characteristic of abusive and political-minded law enforcement. 

To confirm the existence of a gotcha mentality in this case, one looks at the procedural history of the matter. Tompolo’s bank accounts were frozen without a court order but on the instruction of the EFCC. 

Tompolo

That is an act that is a clear violation of the law. Tompolo took legitimate steps to remove these unlawful restrictions on his accounts. 

As that was going on, the EFCC retaliated by inviting him to a meeting in their office on the same date the court was to hear Tombolo’s application against the EFCC. Tompolo reasonably refused to honor the EFCC’s invitation, but rather to face the matter in court on that day. 

In further retaliation, the EFCC filed criminal indictments against Tompolo, while the application over the restrictions on his accounts was still pending.

It is also important to note that the EFCC refused to appear in court to defend against Tompolo’s application. It is based on those EFCC indictments that the issue of Tompolo appearing in court arose.

Under our laws, as well as the laws of any civilized country, it is clear that indictments with these characteristics are considered tainted with ulterior motives. 

It is trite that Tompolo has a right to resist the questionable effort to arrest him, where such was coming in retaliation to a legitimate exercise of a legal right – that is the right to remove unlawful restrictions on his bank accounts. 

Nobody is above the law. Both the EFCC and Tompolo are under the law, and both are expected to obey the law.

Rather than retracing its steps and conforming to the law, the EFCC ratcheted the pressure and sought and obtained a bench warrant against Tompolo. 

The judge has the power to issue a bench warrant against Tompolo for failure to appear. And Tompolo has the right to seek to vacate the Bench Warrant. He should not be punished for exercising that right. 

In view of the fact that Tompolo has filed a valid and pending application to vacate the Bench Warrant, EFCC ought not to attempt to preempt the outcome. 

Tompolo’s valid legal process must be exhausted. To attempt to seize his property in the brazen manner underway is a blatant preemption of and disrespect to the court, and cannot be allowed.

In view of all this, it behooves every Nigerian person interested in justice to step out to prevent these abuses, which today are directed against Tompolo, but may be directed against any other person tomorrow. 

What should be predominant on our minds, as we weigh these matters is the preservation of rule of law and due process in our country. It does not matter what you may think of Tompolo as a former leader of a militant group. 

The fact is that the Nigerian state granted amnesty to Tompolo. He is thus a full-fledged Nigerian citizen with all the rights that go with citizenship.

In consideration of the above, my law firm is ready and willing to provide Tompolo free legal services directed at ensuring that his constitutional rights are preserved and respected.

Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire

Principal Counsel


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