Federal High Court on Monday set a new deadline for the arrest of former Niger Delta militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, after he again failed to appear to face theft and money laundering charges.

Judge Ibrahim Buba said Ekpemupolo, popularly known as “Tompolo”, had “refused to honor an invitation for investigation”. “A new order for his arrest is hereby given,” he added.

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Ekpemupolo is one of 10 defendants, including a former head of Nigeria’s maritime security agency, named on a 40-count indictment brought by the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He is one of the most high-profile former leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that attacked oil and gas facilities in the oil-rich south in the 2000s.

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He is facing 14 counts of theft and money laundering between 2012 and last year totaling just over $175 million (157 million euros).

Judge Buba had previously ordered Ekpemupolo’s arrest on Jan. 14 but the defendant’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, claimed in court Monday he had not been properly served with the summons.

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He was overruled and ordered to produce his client in court on February 19.

Prosecutor Festus Kayemo told AFP the new high court order had triggered a nationwide search for Ekpemupolo to ensure his arrest and appearance in court.

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