Babalakin, Babalola tackle EFCC, others over trial, alleged fraud
THE Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been sued by the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Ltd, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), who accused them of making desperate efforts to prosecute him maliciously.
Also, a Managing Partner of Chief Afe Babalola law firm’s, Mr Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN), has refuted the allegation that the company received payment from a Lagos socialite, Fred Ajudua, to represent a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd).
Babalakin, who is seeking a judicial review of the actions of the AGF and EFCC, had on February 23, 2015 been discharged by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos High Court, along with Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visinoni Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd, and Renix Nigeria Ltd.
They were prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly laundering N4.7 billion. After two years in court, the judge ruled that there was no basis for the charges and consequently struck out the charges.
He discharged Babalakin and other defendants. The court observed that the entire 27 charges did not contain any single charge that constituted an offence under the laws of Nigeria.
Following reports that the EFCC was planning to file the same charges against him on the same subject matter and on the same provisions of the law, Babalakin promptly approached the Federal High Court seeking protection and a Judicial Review of the actions.
The court presided over by Justice Tsoho on April 29, 2015, granted a restraining order against EFCC prohibiting the agency from proceeding with the action pending the determination of the suit.
Among the issues raised by Babalakin in the affidavit filed on his behalf is that EFCC had continued to act in breach of all rules of prosecution in his pursuit.
Babalakin stated that he was declared wanted by EFCC, barely 30 minutes after he spoke to its officials, in a bid to embarrass him as there was no basis for the declaration.
He also alleged that after he had been charged to court, EFCC summoned him to take further statements which showed clearly that it had no case against him as at the time of filing the charges and was only out to implicate him at all costs irrespective of evidence.
The criminal charges were filed against Babalakin a day after the Federal Government terminated the Lagos-Ibadan Road Concession which is being handled by the prominent lawyer’s company.
He believes the coincidence raises a lot of questions, as it appears that the charges were filed to gag him and prevent him from challenging the termination of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) project. Babalakin is a pioneer of PPP in Nigeria, and only recently, MMA2 which is run by his company has been adjudged the best terminal in Nigeria and the first privately owned airport terminal in the country.
Babalakin’s lawyers decried what they described as the pervasive powers of EFCC, which if not properly exercised could lead to the indiscriminate trampling on the rights of innocent citizens.
Adenipekun spoke while testifying before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja in the trial of a court registrar, Oluronke Rosolu, allegedly aiding Ajudua to dupe Bamaiyi.
Adenipekun, led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Mr Seidu Atteh, told court that he was the chamber’s head of administration during the period of the said transaction. According to him, “Ajudua did not brief our firm to represent Bamaiyi at any time. That is not correct.
We did not receive any legal fee from Ajudua in respect of the General. “We were never briefed to represent Bamaiyi and we did not receive any money from Ajudua.”
Bamaiyi had alleged that Rosulu, a former registrar to Justice Joseph Oyewole, collected $330,000 from him on behalf of Ajudua on November 20, 2004 being part payment of the legal fees requested by Afe Babalola Chambers to represent him (Bamaiyi) while he was remanded alongside Ajudua in Kirikiri Maximum Prison.