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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Court to decide on Akingbola’s assets today
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos will today deliver ruling in the suit by the former Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over the seizure of the assets of the former bank chief.
At the last adjourned date, the parties in the suit argued all pending applications before the court and the Commission had insisted that Mr. Akingbola must appear before the court so that his trial in the criminal matter can proceed.
The Commission in its application is asking for a stay of proceedings pending the appearance of Mr. Akingbola in court; it is also calling on the bank chief to give oral evidence on his asset.
On the other hand, Mr. Akingbola is asking for a stay of execution of the court order, which confiscated his assets, alleging that the Commission exceeded the court order in executing the same order. He also brought an application asking that the court order should be set aside.
No trial in absentia
Counsel to the Commission, Olukonyinsola Ajayi, while arguing the application, stated that the bank chief evaded arrest and there can be no trial in the absence of the accused person.
“Affidavit-evidence shows that he has not been in the country since August 14, 2009. He has been invited by the Commission and he has also been declared wanted.
“It also shows that two orders not dissimilar to the order granted by this court were made against him in England to the tune of 83 million pound sterling. It can also be shown that he has complied with those orders in England. Based on these facts, it is the submission of the Commission that until Mr. Akingbola submits to jurisdiction, this court should not entertain any application from him.”
In response, the counsel to the defendant, Felix Fagbohungbe, urged the court to “discharge, vacate and nullify the court proceeding” wherein the order to confiscate Mr. Akingbola’s assets was made. He submitted that the order should be set aside on the grounds that it was heard in court chamber and that his client was not at anytime arrested.
Justice Tijani Abubakar will deliver ruling on all the applications today.
Mr. Akingbola was sacked as the CEO of the bank alongside four other bank chiefs by the governor of Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido, on August 14, 2009; his whereabouts has been unknown since then. He was, however, charged to court on account of a 28-count charge levied against him on money-laundering and other economic crimes, allegedly amounting to about N346 billion in his capacity as the Executive Vice Chairman and Group MD of Intercontinental Bank Plc.
In the absence of Mr. Akingbola, the Commission had obtained an order of the court, freezing of the bank accounts of Mr. Akingbola, his wife, Anthonia Akingbola, his companies and those of his agents, amongst other orders, pending the final determination of the 28-count charge levied against him