Tompolo: A US Based Attorney–Emeka Ugwuonye– Offers Free Legal Representation

By Ikenga Chronicles February 19, 2016

— Ifeanyichukwu E. Uke

A US based attorney Ephraim Chukwuemeka Ugwuonye, the principal counsel of ECULAW Group, and the founder of Due Process Advocate (DPA), in a press statement  this morning, offered free legal services to the former Nigerian militant commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), High Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo.

It will be recalled that few weeks ago, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) leveled more than 40 counts of criminal charges that border on money laundering and fraud against the billionaire ex-militant. Tompolo has since gone underground following a warrant for his arrest issued by Justice Buba Ibrahim of the Federal High Court, Lagos following his failure to appear before the court.

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Attorney Ugwuonye, in his statement, bemoaned the manner in which the EFCC is handling the case. According to him, “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 an unprecedented effort to railroad Tompolo.”

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He further stated, “The media utterances and aggressive steps taken by the EFCC since the commencement of this dispute is 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. 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 honour 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.”

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Ugwuonye also cautioned that “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.” It is on this note that he offered a free legal representation to the ex-militant; “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.”

*Uke, who is the Chief Coordinating Correspondent USA for Ikenga Chronicles, contributes from Dallas, Texas USA

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