By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Oamen Areguamen
LAGOS — A mild drama ensued before Justice Habeeb Abiru of the Ikeja High Court, yesterday, as new effort by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to formally arraign former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank, Dr. Erastus and Akingbola and one of his aides, Bayo Dada, over alleged stealing failed.
Though, his plea and that of Dada who was in court with Akingbola was not taken, he was however directed to stand in the dock by the trial judge. Akingbola and his aide, Dada were expected to be arraigned on a 29-count charge of stealing and diversion of fund belonging to Intercontinental Bank while Akingbola held sway as the chief executive officer of the bank.
Akingbola’s wife, Anthonia, who was declared wanted by the EFCC and expected to be arraigned alongside her husband by the anti graft agency was, however, absent in court.
The court drama started when the matter was called, with counsel representing Akingbola and his aide, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, vehemently objected to the prayer of Mr. Kola Awodein, SAN, representing EFCC, urging the court to order the accused persons to move into the dock. Fagbohungbe had argued that the accused persons have a pending application before the court which must be heard before any such decision could be taken.
Responding, Awodein argued that the application before the court was not to challenge the jurisdiction or the power of the court to arraign him, but on the contrary, it recognised that the court could adjudicate on the matter before it.
He therefore, asked the court to allow them moved into the dock.
Justice Abiru in his short ruling, said since the application of the accused persons did not challenge the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter, it was best for the accused to be move into the dock. He subsequently directed them to be moved into the dock.
After the court’s ruling Fagbohungbe told the court that the anti-graft agency has just served on him a copy of their written address to the accused person’s application for stay of proceedings, which he need to study.
“In the interest of justice, it would also be proper for us to put our objection to the written address in writing,” Fagbohungbe said.
Justice Abiru however adjourned the matter till May 23, 2011 for the defence to respond to the written address and hearing of other pending issue.
EFCC had last Monday, May 9, 2011 failed to produce the accused persons before the judge to answer to alleged 29 count charge bothering on theft .
Akingbola, who was already facing corruption and money laundering charges before Justice Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, was re_arrested by the commission recently alongside his wife for allegedly stealing about N47.1 billion from Intercontinental Bank Plc.
He also appraoche the same federal high court to restrain the EFCC arraigning him in the state high court.
The three accused persons, according to the EFCC, allegedly committed all the offences between March and May 2009 for stealing, receiving stolen property and obtaining money under false pretence.
In some of the cahrges, Akingbola was alleged to have converted over N50 billion belonging to Intercontinental Bank to personal use under false pretence.
Anthonia and Dada were also alleged to have defrauded the bank by obtaining over 10 billion from it under the false pretence that it was indebted to their company.
The EFCC said the alleged offences contravene Sections 390(7) and 427 of the Criminal Code Law Cap C. 17, Laws of Lagos State 2003 and Section 1 (1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act 2006.