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Ibru, Adigwe, Ebong, 3 others get N1.8bn bail

LAGOS — FORMER Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers of three banks — Mrs Cecilia Ibru (Oceanic Bank Plc); Mr. Sebastian Adigwe (Afribank Plc) and Bartholomew Ebong (Union Bank of Nigeria Plc)  and three others were yesterday granted bail by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, in the total sum of N1.8 billion.

Each of the accused persons was admitted to bail in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in like sum.
However at press time, none of them had been released as they were said to be perfecting the conditions.

Mr. Sebastine Adigwe, former MD of Afribank and Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank Plc at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos for the resumed trial of three Bank's ex-Managing Directors, yesterday. Photo: Lamidi Bamidele
Mr. Sebastine Adigwe, former MD of Afribank and Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank Plc at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos for the resumed trial of three Bank's ex-Managing Directors, yesterday. Photo: Lamidi Bamidele

Others granted bail yesterday were Mr Henry Onyemem and Niyi Opeodu, Directors of Union Bank Plc and Mr Peter Ololo, a bank debtor, who is standing trial alongside Sebastian Adigwe.

They are all standing trial before the court on three separate charges bordering on economic sabotage and threats to the economic health of the nation and fraud, concealment and grant of loans without adequate collateral running into billions of naira.

Meanwhile, another court (Federal High Court) in Lagos, yesterday adjourned till September 24, 2009, further hearing in the suit by former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr Erastus Akingbola, who is challenging his removal from office by the Central Bank (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Retired Chief of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdullahi Mustapha, who first heard the matter, had adjourned it till yesterday, and also transferred the matter to another judge, saying “this case is one of the high profile cases and it needs a very senior judge to handle. In view of my pending retirement, this case is hereby assigned to Justice Ibrahim Auta.”

Ibru, Adigwe, Ebong get bail

Trial judge in the matter, the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu, who ruled on the bail applications of the accused persons, admitted them to bail each in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in like sum.

According to him, the accused persons must not travel outside the country during the pendency of the charge, while they are to report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abuja office every first working day of every month.

Chief Felix Fagbohungbe SAN, Counsel to Mr. Erastus Akingbola, former MD of Intercontinental Bank responding to questions from pressmen at the premises of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, yesterday during the trial of Ex-Bank MDs. Photo by Lamidi Bamidele
Chief Felix Fagbohungbe SAN, Counsel to Mr. Erastus Akingbola, former MD of Intercontinental Bank responding to questions from pressmen at the premises of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, yesterday during the trial of Ex-Bank MDs. Photo by Lamidi Bamidele

The court further ordered that the sureties must be resident in Lagos or Abuja, “must be Chairman of any financial institution; Chairman of board of Director of an oil company or oil producing company, or a company with assets base of not less than N1 billion and it must be reflected in the 2008 Annual Report of the company, or a member of Senate or former Senator or member of House of Representatives or a former member of House of Representatives”.

According to the court, the sureties must own landed property in Lekki, Victoria Island or Ikoyi, all in Lagos or Maitama, Asokoro or Garki, in Abuja.

The court further ordered that the EFCC should verify the addresses of the sureties and other documents submitted by the sureties, while the commission was given 48 hours to complete the verification of the documents, once they are tendered.

But one of the defence counsel noted that the verification of the addresses and documents of the sureties should be done by the court Registrar, rather than the EFCC, and in a sharp response, the counsel to the commission, told the court that he would ensure that his client (EFCC) complies with the verification of the documents within 48 hours as ordered by the court.

Further hearing in Bartholomew Ebong’s case was adjourned till November 23 and 24, 2009; while that of Mrs Cecilia Ibru, was adjourned till November 25, and Sebastian Adigwe’s case, to November 26.

The court in granting the accused persons bail held that the suspects were granted bail because the offences for which they were arraigned are bailable.

From left; Chief Omimi Obaide of Okpe Kingdom; Chief Palmer Munu of Udu Kingdom; Senator Fred Brume of Urhobo Elders Council and  Chief Vincent Ukusare of Uvwie Kingdom, representing Urhobo Elders Council at the premises of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, during the trial of Ex-Bank MDs yesterday. Photo by Lamidi Bamidele.
From left; Chief Omimi Obaide of Okpe Kingdom; Chief Palmer Munu of Udu Kingdom; Senator Fred Brume of Urhobo Elders Council and Chief Vincent Ukusare of Uvwie Kingdom, representing Urhobo Elders Council at the premises of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, during the trial of Ex-Bank MDs yesterday. Photo by Lamidi Bamidele.

The court also held that there was no evidence to prove that the accused persons would impede the investigations of the charges preferred against them, “since the EFCC had concluded investigations on their cases”

The court will today rule on the bail applications of the former MD of FinBank Nigeria Plc, Mr Okey Nwosu and Intercontinental Bank Plc non-executive members, Dr. Raymond Obieri, Engr. Hynacinth Enuha, Christopher Alabi, Chief Samuel Adegbite, Alhaji Isyaku Umar, Mr. Bayo Dada and Elder Sanni Adams. They are standing trial on a two separate charges, bordering on fraud, concealment and grant of loans without adequate collateral, running into about billion of naira.

Urhobo leaders storm court

Meanwhile, some Urhobo leaders and elders were in court yesterday, to support Cecilia Ibru. They include Chief Palmer Mumu, Chief Omimi Obaide, Chief Vincent Ukusare, Mrs Elizabeth Brume and Senator Fred Brume.

Akingbola’s suit adjourned

But yesterday, hearing in the suit by Dr Akingbola could not go on, as the court did not seat, prompting the matter to be further adjourned till September 24.

Akingbola, who was granted leave by the court to apply for the quashing of his sack by the CBN Governor, is also claiming the sum of N50 billion against the apex bank and its Governor.

Akingbola in the suit is praying the court to declare that there was no special examination conducted by the CBN into the books and affairs of Intercontinental Bank, during the management headed him as its Group Chief Executive.

He is also asking the court to declare that the purported examination or investigation ordered by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria into the books and affairs of the bank based on the letter of June 18, and signed by one E. O. Owajulu, a Deputy Director on behalf of the Director of Banking Supervision of the CBN during the management headed by the applicant (Akingbola) or at anytime whatsoever did  not comply with the requisite enabling statutes, due process of law and the rules of natural justice.

In addition, the applicant is asking the court for an order of certiorari quashing the said order of the CBN Governor, made against the applicant, for not being in good faith, contrary to due process, contrary to the process of law, discriminatory, ultra-vires, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

The ground for seeking the relief by the applicant, among others, was that there was no legal basis for his removal as the Group Chief Executive and a Director of Intercontinental Bank.


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