Law News
Akingbola takes N5bn fraud case to Supreme Court

A former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, has urged the Supreme Court to quash the N5bn fraud charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Akingbola’s fresh move to quash the charges followed an order of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal that he should be retried before the Federal High Court.

The appellate court, in a lead judgment by Justice Amina Augie on February 20, 2015, overruled the decision of a retired Federal High Court judge, Justice Charles Archibong, who freed Akingbola of the fraud charges.

Archibong, in a judgment delivered on April 2, 2012, had struck out the 26 counts contained in a charge numbered FHC/L/443C/2013 filed by the EFCC against Akingbola on the grounds that the prosecution was not diligent in the handling of the case.

The judge had described the EFCC prosecution team as a drain in the public purse.

But not pleased, the EFCC asked the appellate court to overrule Archibong, which Augie accordingly did on February 20.

Augie and her panel members had asked that Akingbola’s case file be returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to reassign to another judge for meritorious and expeditious trial.

But Akingbola, through his lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN), has asked the Supreme Court to upturn Augie’s judgment.

In the fresh appeal which was predicated on two grounds, Fagbohungbe contended that Augie and her panel missed the point when they held that Archibong dismissed the charge and discharged Akingbola “without stating the grounds on which the decision was based.”

The senior counsel also contended that the appellate court erred in law when it held that any bystander, who watched what transpired before Archibong would certainly agree that EFCC did not get fair hearing.

Fagbohungbe stated that the principle of fair hearing was not applicable to only one party in the proceedings but to all parties before the court.

He added that at all relevant times, the EFCC was given ample opportunity to proceed with its case but rather elected not to do so.

According to him, Archibong had inherent jurisdiction to prevent an abuse of the court process and prevent unnecessary oppression and violation of the right to fair hearing of an accused person before him, including Akingbola.

“The learned trial judge was at liberty to invoke the court’s inherent powers to prevent an abuse of the judicial process and dismiss the charge before the court suo motu even without any application by the appellant,” Fagbohungbe submitted, as he urged the apex court to upturn Augie’s judgment and set his client free.

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