By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North & Wahab Abdulah
LAGOS — More trouble came the way of the Bi-Courtney top shot, Dr. Wale Babalakin, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, began moves to formally charge him for alleged money laundering.
The filing of the 27-count charge at a Lagos High Court by the anti-graft agency, came barely two days after an aggrieved Federal Government terminated the Concession management contract it awarded to Bi-Courtney to construct and operate the strategic 125-km Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Although the company has kicked against the cancellation of the job, the Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, sounded defiant last night, saying the government was ready to meet Babalakin in court over the action, which he said was to save Nigerian road users from avoidable suffering.
Vanguard learnt that although the charges were filed, no date had been fixed for the commencement of Babalakin’s trial.
It was gathered that the Bi-Courtney boss was being wanted in connection with the alleged role he played in helping a former governor in one of the Niger Delta states to launder over N2 billion, which the politician successfully moved to Mauritius and eventually used in acquiring a Bombardier aircraft, while in office.
There were indications last night that operatives of the anti-graft agency might have begun a manhunt for the lawyer-turned businessman with interest in many areas of investments.
A source familiar with the charges that were filed against Babalakin, said: “We have filed 27 charges bordering on money laundering against the suspect and we may soon move against him.
“The suspect is wanted in connection with a transaction in which he helped a former governor to launder huge sums of money via a company in Mauritius and used the proceeds to acquire an aircraft for his personal use.
“Specifically, he has to answer questions on money laundering against himself and conferring corrupt benefits on the former governor by helping to launder public funds,” the source explained.
Only on Monday, the Federal Government had terminated the road contract and gave it to two other firms -Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and RCC Nigeria Limited- to handle speedily.
The government accused Bi-Courtney of serially breaching the terms of the concession agreement signed by both parties on May 26, 2009 under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua administration.
But Bi-Courtney spokesman, Dipo Kehinde, said the government had been unfair to the company, insisting that it had kept its side of the agreement.