Tompolo Wants Court to Stop His Trial

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  • Challenges the legality of Administration of Criminal Justice Act

Davidson Iriekpen
The embattled former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), has filed a fresh suit before the Federal High Court in Lagos to stop his trial, contending that the law on which he was charged is unconstitutional.

Consequently, Tompolo, through his lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, is asking the court to nullify Sections 221 and 306 from the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to the extent of their inconsistencies with the constitution.
Justice Ibrahim Buba had on January 14, 2016, issued a warrant for the arrest of Tompolo.

But on January 27, 2016, Tompolo filed an application before the court to set aside the said warrant of arrest.
On February 8, 2016, the said application was argued and dismissed by the court.

Tompolo thereafter filed an appeal against the ruling at the Court of Appeal on February 18, 2016.
His appeal was entered at the Court of Appeal on March 3, 2016, following which his team of lawyers filed his brief of argument in the said appeal, awaiting the response of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
However, in a fresh suit, filed against the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Attorney-General of the Federation, EFCC, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff, Tompolo is contending that sections 221 and 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act are invalid and unconstitutional.

He argued that these sections are unconstitutional so far as they seek to prevent the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objection to a criminal charge and application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal.

The ex-militant is thus asking the court to stop his further trial until the determination of these issues.
Section 221 Administration of Criminal Justice Act, states that “objections shall not be taken or entertained during proceedings or trial on the grounds of an imperfect or erroneous charge, while Section 306 states that
“an application for stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before a court shall not be entertained.”
In the new case filed, suit No. FHC/L/CS/499/2016, Tompolo, among others, is seeking the following reliefs, a “declaration that section 221 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, is to the extent that it seeks to be an absolute bar to any objection to a criminal charge or information, already filed, especially charge No.FHC/L/553C/2015 – Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) and Nine Others and Charge No. FHC/L/31C/2016 – Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Ekpemupolo Chief Government Oweize and 12 others., or to be filed against the applicant, constitutes a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) & (6) as well as the inherent powers of a court of law under Section 6(6)(a)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

“A declaration that section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 is to the extent that it seeks to be an absolute bar to an application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal to a higher court, in relation to a criminal charge or information, already filed, especially Charge No.FHC/L/553C/2015 – Federal Republic of Nigeria v Government Ekpemupolo (Alias Tompolo) & Nine Others, Charge No. FHC/L/31C/2016 – Federal Republic of Nigeria vs Ekpemupolo Chief Government Oweize and 12 others, or to be filed against the applicant, constitutes a flagrant violation of the applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing as guaranteed under Sections 36(1), (4) and (6) ) as well as the inherent powers of a court of law under Section 6(6)(a)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article VII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.”