Thursday, 23 May 2013
Court Did Not Stop EFCC From Prosecuting Babalakin, EFCC Says, As Suspect Checks Into LUTH
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says that it was not stopped by a Federal High Court judge yesterday from arraigning controversial Lagos businessman, Wale Babalakin.
This is despite the fact that the judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, categorically stated that his ruling meant nothing was to be done to Mr. Babalakin, who had earlier tricked the commission in another court into believing he was ill and hospitalized, while all the time working elsewhere on obtaining the controversial ruling.
Justice Idris, who is one of the sons of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Legbo Kutigi, had asked that further action be stayed on the matter, but a written order received by SaharaReporters did not contain an explicit order stopping the trial.
The written proceeding only granted Mr. Babalakin leave to bring before the court a plea to stop his arraignment in court for money laundering.
A statement by Wilson Uwujaren, the Acting EFCC spokesman, said: “The ruling by Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court, Lagos which many have construed as a restraining order, merely GRANTED LEAVE to the applicant to apply for an order of prohibition preventing the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation from going ahead with his arraignment.”
The spokesman further said that that particular prayer was one of three sought by Babalakin through an ex-parte application.
“But Justice Idris turned down the two other prayers, which included an order to restrain the respondents from prosecuting the applicant.”
Judicial sources told SaharaReporters that very negative publicity has followed the dubious ruling by Justice Idris.
Meanwhile, Mr. Babalakin has checked himself into a ward at the Lagos Teaching Hospital (LUTH) to seek treatment for the undisclosed ailment that was the subject of the postponement of his trial yesterday.
A medical report issued by a LUTH specialist, Dr. Charles Harmound, yesterday truncated Mr. Babalakin’s trial. While his lawyers were pleading with the court to adjourn the commencement of his trial due to a mysterious "illness" that was unknown until court opened, Babalakin, himself a lawyer, somehow got Justice Idris to issue the spurious legal pronouncement that has now blown up.
Only last week, Ibrahim Lamorde, the EFCC chairman, told the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes that the commission finds prosecution of high profile Nigerians because of the wealth with which they are able to manipulate court processes.
Full text of the EFCC Press Statement
Contrary to reports by a section of the media, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has not been stopped from arraigning Dr. Wale Babalakin by any court order. The ruling by Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court, Lagos which many have construed as a restraining order, merely GRANTED LEAVE to the applicant to apply for an order of prohibition preventing the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation from going ahead with his arraignment.
This was one of three prayers sought by Babalakin through an ex-parte application. But Justice Idris turned down the two other prayers, which included an order to restrain the respondents from prosecuting the applicant.
Their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction against the EFCC and the AGF is scheduled to be heard on December 12, 2012.
Babalakin was to have been arraigned on Thursday November 30 before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on money laundering charges but failed to show up, claiming sudden illness that necessitated his hospitalization at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.
The businessman and four others: Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Remix Nigeria Limited are facing a 27-count charge for fraudulently transferring various sums of money on behalf of the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, through third parties to some foreign accounts under the guise of purchasing a Challenger Jet Aircraft.
Justice Onigbanjo has adjourned the case to December 12, 2012.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity