Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday dismissed an application filed by Niger Delta’s former militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, popularly known as Tomopolo, challenging the criminal charge filed against him by the Federal Government.
Through his counsel, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, Tompolo had approached the court seeking the nullification of Section 221 and 306 of Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) 2015, under which he was charged, arguing that the two sections violate his constitutional right to fair hearing.
He had joined the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Inspector-General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Air Staff as other defendants in the suit.
In the application, Tomopolo had also argued that both sections 221 and 306 were unconstitutional, claiming that they seek to prevent the court from exercising its jurisdiction to entertain any objections to a criminal charge and application for a stay of proceedings pending appeal.
“Section 221 of the ACJA states that objections shall not be taken or entertained during proceedings or trial on the ground 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 response, the counsel to the Federal Government, Idris Mohammed, had urged the court to dismiss the suit with a substantive cost, saying it was an abuse of court process.In dismissing the prayer, Justice Olatoregun stated that the Supreme Court had affirmed that whether a charge is defective or otherwise, an accused person is bound to first take his plea, adding that an interlocutory application cannot stop criminal trial.