24 November 2012

Nigeria: Ibori Loot - Court Adjourns Till Dec 11

An Abuja Federal High Court yesterday dismissed an application brought before it by one Olalekan Bayode asking to be joined as intervener in a case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking forfeiture to the Federal Government $15,000,000 it allegedly received from former Delta State Governor James Ibori, which it deposited at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In the application, Bayode, an artisan who deals in repairs of refrigerators and air conditioning units based in Lagos State, asked that he be given the money so he can set up a charity organization that will benefit all Nigerians.

Dismissing the application Justice Gabriel Kolawole, however, said it is an abuse of court process which was filed to ridicule the issue on ground.

"The conduct of his counsel, Olufemi Aina, leaves much to be desired. Being a solicitor in England, the question I ask is whether he would have filed such an application at the High Court in England.

"This action can only be seen as a gross abuse of court process and was filed to ridicule such an important issue which borders on the corporate integrity of Nigeria."

He said the court woild have referred Bayode to the police for prosecution if he had laid claim to the ownership of the money.

"The only saving grace of the intervener applicant is that I was unable to lay my hands on any proof that he read in the newspaper the publication of the interim order earlier made by this court. If not that he did not lay any specific claim to the ownership of the money, he would have been referred to the Inspector General of Police for investigation or prosecution".

He described the conduct of Bayode's counsel as highly despicable and reprehensible, saying he hopes that the National Executive Committee of the Nigeria Bar Association will take up the matter for disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, the court has adjourned till December 11 for hearing of applicants counsel address as to why an order of forfeiture should not be made.

The court had in July asked that the anti graft agency publish the order in Thisday to enable anyone who may lay bona fide claim to the money, to within 14 days after the publication, approach the court to show cause why it should not be forfeited to the government.

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