A gunship belonging to ex-Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo widely known as Tompolo, has sunk in Lagos.
The vessel had been impounded in Lagos after its seizure by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2017.
A statement sent by the Assistant Director, Public Relations, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Edward Osagie, gave more insight into the development on Monday.
Osagie said the boat and its management have been a subject of litigation, while its crew doesn’t report to NIMASA anymore.
According to him, the boats and its management have remained a subject of litigation and under the custody of the EFCC for years.
The statement reads, “While this is an unfortunate development, it is important to bring to the attention of all that this vessel, under reference here, is one of Global West boats that were in service with the agency years ago.
“This boat has the name NIMASA-Barugu right from the days of the contract. There are also other boats in this contractual category in Warri.
“Collectively, the boats and their management have remained a subject of litigation and under the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for years.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is on record that NIMASA recently made concerted efforts towards reactivating a few of the serviceable boats in this fleet, but was constrained by the legal encumbrances due to the nature of the case in court. As a law-abiding entity, we approached the matter under sound legal advisory.
“Finally, it must be stated that this vessel was not in our jetty and under our management at the time of the incident. The crew onboard does not report to NIMASA, but to Global West management, its owners.
“NIMASA remains committed to her statutory responsibility of administering safety and regulating the industry within the ambit of every lawful framework.”
Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court, Lagos, in May 2017 authorised the EFCC to seize some assets belonging to Tompolo.
The judge authorised the EFCC to take possession of the concerned assets pending when Tompolo would make himself available to answer the charges of N45.9 billion fraud preferred against him and nine others.
The judge said if Tompolo failed to appear within three months of the order, the Nigerian Government might proceed to auction the said assets.
The assets of Tompolo which the EFCC was authorised to seize include his house located at No. 1, Chief Agbamu Close DDPA Extension Warri (Effurun), Delta State.
Others are a River Crew Change Boat named MUHA -15; “Tompolo Dockyard,” “Tompolo Yard,” the Diving School at Kurutie, at Escravos River; “Tompolo House” at Oporaza Town, opposite the Palace.
The judge said the EFCC could also seize any other assets it may later discover and verify to indeed belong to Tompolo.