12 December 2012

Nigeria: Alleged N4.7 Billion Scam - Babalakin Plotting to Flee - EFCC

Photo: This Day
Wale Babalakin

Lagos — Rotimi Jacobs, the lead counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions EFCC, has alleged that they got security reports that Dr Olawale Babalakin, was planning to elope outside the country.

Jacob, while responding to the complaints by Babalakin's lawyers, that armed men from the EFCC, are laying siege on the premises of the hospital, said that the alleged siege was meant to put the agency on alert to avoid a similar incident in the past.

He said one of his lawyers, Mr Abiodun Layolu, told him that he had to get the permission from Babalakin to see him.

He added that Babalakin, asked Layolu, to give him guarantee that he was not going to be in detention, he also asked that if he goes to a private hospital, if he would be arrested and Layolu said he would be arrested if he goes to a private hospital.

He then asked the EFCC, to assign a police officer to him. Jacob, said "he is giving us conditions, I can even show the court his text messages on my phone."

Meantime, the arraignment of Babalakin and four others by EFCC over an alleged N4.7 billion fraud, schedule for yesterday, took a different turn at an Ikeja High Court, when the lead counsel, Chief Ebun Shofunde SAN, announced his withdrawal from the matter.

Before the new twist, Shotunde, who was at the last sitting informed the court of Babalakin's admission at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, over an undisclosed ailment.

He had told the court that he had earlier forwarded a letter to the registrar of the court which contained a medical report by one Dr Charles Harmon about Babalakin's health.

He had also informed the court presided over by Justice Adeniji Onigbanjo that Babalakin's health deteriorated immediately after he appeared before the EFCC office in Abuja on November 26, 2012 for questioning.

He also asked the court to adjourn the matter to allow his client recover from the undisclosed sickness.

But at the resumption of the matter yesterday, Sofunde, announced his withdrawal from the defence team, saying that it is on a personal reasons.

He said his decision to withdrawal was contained in an application dated December 4, 2012, where he informed the court that his reason was personal.

He however told the court that if his client wishes to challenge his withdrawal, he may decide to tell the court his actual reason for withdrawing from the matter.

Justice Onigbanjo in response promptly granted his request for withdrawal and stood the matter down as the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had earlier requested that the matter be stood down as he was attending to a sister case filed by Babalakin at the Federal High Court, Lagos seeking to stop EFCC from arraigning him

But when the court resumed hearing on the matter, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde SAN, who took over from Sofunde informed the court of two applications pending in the court dated December 11, 2012 seeking for adjournment of the trial and for the court to admit the defendant to bail.

Bolaji, who drew the attention of the court on EFCC's bombardment at LUTH in what he said was against the directive of the court asking EFCC to verify his health status said the application is premised in the health condition of the first defendant.

He also asked the court for time to respond on the applications as they were only served on him on Tuesday evening, at about 5:40pm.

Other counsel in the matter, are Tayo Oyetibo, Dr Joseph Nwobike and Roland Otaru all SANs also asked for more time to either be served with the court processes or respond to them.

After hearing from the counsel, the trial judge adjourned till January 17, 2013 for hearing of the pending applications and possible arraignment of the defendants.

The EFCC had filed a 27 count charge against Dr. Wale Babalakin, SAN, Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd for fraudulently assisting former governor of Delta State, James Ibori to transfer various sums of money through third party to some foreign accounts under the guise of purchasing a Challenger Jet Aircraft.

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