Nigeria’s anti-graft agency on Friday slapped fresh corruption charges on a former Niger Delta militant leader who has ignored court summons to defend himself.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as “Tompolo”, was wanted over the illegal diversion of 11.9 billion naira ($60 million) belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
He has previously been charged with laundering $175 million but has refused to appear in court.
Last week, judge Ibrahim Buba of the federal high court in Lagos issued a fresh order for his arrest and arraignment on February 19.
Ekpemupolo, 47, was one of the high-profile leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) blamed for the series of attacks on oil and gas facilities in the 2000s.
The Niger Delta unrest disrupted Nigeria’s oil exports, sending shock waves into the global oil market, until a 2009 amnesty placated the rebels.
Some, including Ekpemupolo, went on to be awarded lucrative government security contracts to protect the oil and gas facilities they once attacked.
But it is alleged such agreements were often used as a front to steal money.
Ekpemupolo’s supporters are believed to be behind several attacks on oil pipelines in recent months, prompting fears of fresh unrest in the volatile region if he was arrested.