Akingbola's Lawyers Stall Case With Fresh Motion


Lawyers to former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr Eratus Akingbola on Monday again frustrated attempts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arraign him before an Ikeja High Court on fresh theft charges.


Akingbola and an associate, Bayo Dada, were dragged by the EFCC before Justice Habeeb Abiru on a 29-count charge bordering on theft.


The EFCC had alleged that Akingbola conspired with his wife, Anthonia (now at large) and Dada to steal over N47.1 billion belonging to Intercontinental Bank Plc whilst he was the Chief Executive Officer.


The anti-crime agency had made two previous attempts to arraign the accused persons which had proved futile due to series of applications filed by their counsel stopping the arraignment.


At the resumed hearing on Monday, Akingbola’s lead counsel, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN) told the court that the defence had filed a fresh application dated 20 May 2011 which have been served on the prosecution.


Fagbohungbe asked the court to withdraw their earlier application dated 10 May, 2011 in light of recent developments concerning the matter.


The fresh application seeks an order of the court declining jurisdiction to entertain the case and had also asked it to restrain the EFCC from arraigning the accused persons in respect of the fresh charges.


It also asked the court for an order dismissing the charges brought against them on the grounds that the EFCC had no statutory powers under the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2007 to prosecute the matter.


Fagbohungbe said the charge filed against the accused persons by the EFCC was done in bad faith and an abuse of court processes.


He informed the court that Justice Charles Achibong of a Federal High Court in Lagos had on 18 May ordered the EFCC to release the accused persons immediately.


According to him, the former application was based on an interim order, adding that with the substantive order given by the Federal High Court Judge, the EFCC had no option but to release them.


He said: “that order that our clients must be released forthwith is an absolute order. For the EFCC to keep holding them in their custody is contemptuous.


“If a court of competent jurisdiction has adjudged EFCC to be in contempt, then Farida Waziri ought to have resigned by now because EFCC by its action is putting the judiciary under siege.”


Fagbohungbe asked the court to declare an interim order releasing the accused persons from EFCC custody pending the determination of the issues raised in the application.


“Our clients have been under EFCC custody for the past three weeks, illegally and unconstitutionally and we are asking this court to order them to comply with the judgment of the Federal High Court,” he added.


However, EFCC lead counsel, Mr Kola Awodein (SAN) asked the court to grant the prosecution a short date to respond in writing to the fresh application filed by Akingbola’s lawyers.


Awodein also objected to the oral application made by the defence for the release of the accused persons, adding that the EFCC had filed an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court.


The judge, while expressing dismay over the slow pace of the matter, cautioned both parties against unnecessary delay tactics.


Abiru said: “I want this matter to have a clear direction. I cannot grant such an ex-parte order for their release without hearing from the prosecution.


“It will be presumptuous of me to assume that they are in contempt as you have alleged without hearing from them.”


He therefore adjourned the matter till 31 May to enable the prosecution respond in writing to the fresh application served on them by Akingbola’s lawyers.
By Henry Ojelu

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