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We didn’t recommend Akingbola’s sacking, bank’s take-over, says EFCC witness

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An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Mr. Paul Akali, yesterday told a Federal High Court, Lagos, that his team did not recommend the sack of Intercontinental Bank’s former Managing Director, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, in 2009 and take-over of the defunct bank.

Akali stated this during the ongoing trial of Akingbola when he was cross-examined by the defence counsel, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN).Akingbola is being tried by the EFCC for allegedly granting “unsecured credit facilities” worth billions of naira to different companies, among others.

The EFCC said the alleged offence violated Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering Act of 2004.Akali, an official of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), had told the court at the last hearing of the matter during examination-in-chief by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the roles played by his team, which led to the removal of Akingbola as the bank’s managing director and chief executive officer, as well as the taking over of the bank by Access Bank Plc.

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At the resumed proceedings yesterday, the EFCC witness said that while they conducted various examinations on the bank, his NDIC team never recommended that the bank should be taking over.

When asked if he knew that the taking over was less than one month after the ‘exit meeting’, he answered in affirmative, adding that even though there were financial discrepancies in the bank, none was directly linked to Akingbola.

He said that some of the discrepancies were noticed in the bank’s monthly returns, but added that the bank management disagreed with the team on commercial papers, which he said, were for short-time loans for maximum of 270 days, claiming that he could not remember if any of the commercial papers were signed by Akingbola.

Akali also complained of loans given to the bank’s directors to buy shares, but when questioned if Akingbola was among the directors that collected the loans or signed for it, he said no.

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When also asked by Osipitan (SAN) if any of the directors who benefited from the loan and bonuses are standing trial with Akingbola, he said no.He also said that he was not aware if the directors who were beneficiaries of the unsecured loans of N8 billion were charged and arraigned before a court.

He was then confronted with a charge sheet in which the directors’ names were listed as defendants: Alabi Christopher Adebayo; Raymond C. Obieri (Chairman of the bank); U. N. Enuha; Samuel Adegbite; Alhaji Ishaku Umoru and Elder Dr. Sunny Adams.

When also confronted with an enrolled order striking out the charge against the directors in 2014, he then confirmed that Akingbola’s name was not in the charge and that he did not have any course to testify against the named directors in any court.The court subsequently adjourned further cross-examination of the witness to March 23, 2020.

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