Law News
N4.7bn fraud: Court adjourns Babalakin’s case against EFCC

A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till June 15, 2015 to hear an application filed by the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, to stop fresh criminal proceedings against him.

The defendants in the suit filed before Justice John Tsoho are the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Babalakin filed the fundamental rights enforcement suit to stop the fresh move to arraign him before a Lagos State High Court in connection with an alleged N4.7bn fraud.

He was alleged to have, with others, aided a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who is now serving a jail term in the United Kingdom, to siphon public funds.

Earlier in February this year, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of the Lagos High Court had dismissed an amended 27 count filed against Babalakin and four others on the alleged fraud.

His then co-accused were his two companies, Bi-Courtney Limited and Stabilini Visioni Limited; along with one Alex Okoh, and his company, Renix Nigeria.

While freeing Babalakin and others of the 27 counts on February 23, 2015, Lawal-Akapo had described the charges filed by the EFCC against them as being “incurably bad.”

However, rather than appeal the judgment, the EFCC had re-instituted the case by filing fresh charges before the Lagos State High Court.

Babalakin, in his application before the Federal High Court through his lawyer, Mr. Wale Akoni (SAN), is seeking an order quashing the fresh charges.

He prayed for an order “restraining EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation from taking any steps to arraign or proceed with the arraignment or trial of the applicant on the same or similar charge or under the same or similar law or similar subject matter, which charge ID/239/C/2012 was instituted by the respondent and quashed by the High Court of Lagos State pending the hearing and determination of the application.”

At the May 11 proceeding, Tsoho, after entertaining submissions from the parties had adjourned till May 25 to take Babalakin’s motion on notice.

The matter could, however, not proceed on Monday as the court did not sit.

The EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had at the May 11 proceedings urged the court to grant the application expeditious hearing, saying it was a ploy to delay the arraignment of Babalakin and others.

“We want my Lord to treat this application urgently because they want to stop the Lagos State High Court from taking the plea of the applicants,” Jacobs said.

The 27 counts quashed by Lawal-Akapo bordered on conspiracy, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct and corruptly conferring benefit on account of public action.

The EFCC claimed that Babalakin and others allegedly aided Ibori to transfer public funds amounting to about N4.7bn into the bank account of one Erin Aviation in Mauritius for the purpose of purchasing an aircraft for Ibori.

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