N47.1 Billion Scam - EFCC Accuses Akingbola Of Delaying Trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, March 24, 2014 told a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that an application filed by Wole Olanipekun, SAN, counsel to a former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank, Mr. Erastus Akingbola, challenging the jurisdiction of the court, was premature and a ploy to delay his trial.

Akingbola is facing trial, alongside Mr. Bayo Dada, on a 22-count charge bordering on allegedly stealing N47.1billion belonging to Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank).

Counsel to the EFCC, E. Ukala, SAN, prayed the court to hold Akingbola's application in abeyance till the end of trial. According to him, “this same application has been filed and decided in this same matter before the matter started de novo. And the new judicial policy says that matters relating to criminal proceedings be given speedy hearing, and no law overrides the administration of criminal justice”.

But Olanipekun argued that “the court had no right to put an application challenging jurisdiction in abeyance as the application is not unusual”. Counsel to Dada, Miss Oluwatosin Adams who also had same application pending for his client, immediately aligned with the submissions of Olanipekun.

After listening to the submissions of both counsels, Justice Lawal Akapo ruled that: "I am of the view that the application be heard first, as same time and energy will be expended if we hear it now or later”. He also ordered counsel to the two defendants to consolidate their applications.

He adjourned the matter to April 2, 2014 for arguments on the applications.

It will be recalled that both Akingbola and Dada were first arraigned before Justice Habeeb Abiru on May 31, 2011, and when Justice Abiru was elevated to the Court of Appeal, the case was transferred to Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo. The recent transfer of Justice Onigbanjo to the commercial Division of the Lagos High Court further necessitated the transfer of the case to Justice Akapo, before whom the trial commenced de novo.

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