The absence of a prosecution lawyer, Festus Keyamo, yesterday, stalled hearing in the trial of a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo and others over alleged N47.6 billion fraud before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in

New Telegraph learnt that Keyamo had written a letter to the court seeking for an adjournment of the matter owing to the nonavailability of his main witness. At yesterday’s proceedings, one of the defence lawyers, Oyesoji Oyeleke (SAN), informed the court of a preliminary objection he filed on behalf of his client, challenging the competence of the charges. He said the prosecution’s failure to depose to an affidavit indicating it had concluded investigations into the matter before filing the charge was fatal to its case.

He consequently urged the court to strike out the charge against his client. Another defence lawyer, Sylvester Ekwueme, also drew the attention of the court to a bail application he filed on behalf of his client. Hearing of the two applications has been fixed for November 10, while the accused persons’ trial was adjourned to December 13 and 14.

Tompolo and eight other accused persons were on April 18 arraigned in absentia before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N47.6billion fraud.

Apart from Tompolo, other accused persons docked in absentia are: Pondi Ebimorbowei Kestin, Igo Akpobolokemi, Julius Akpobolokemi, Stephen Akpolobokemi, Victor Akpobolokemi, Norbert Akpobolokemi, Emmanuel Ebizimo Akpobolokemi and Clement Akpobolokemi. However, the plea of the immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, four other accused persons and seven companies were taken.

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