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Akingbola loses bid to quash N47.1bn theft charge

By The Citizen
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An Ikeja High Court on Friday dismissed an application filed by Erastus Akingbola, a former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank.

In his ruling, the judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, held that the offences listed in the proof of evidence were stealing, obtaining money by false pretences and receiving stolen property.

'All the counts listed above have nothing to do with banking transactions and capital market,'' he said.

Lawal-Akapo said Akingbola's case was, therefore, different from that of Nwosu.

The judge further held that the court could not determine if the charge was an abuse of court process as the defence had failed to furnish it with the information before the Federal High Court.

According to him, the Lagos State High Court has jurisdiction to try offences charged under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.

'The offences as charged are within the purview and competence of the state high court. In the result, I find no merit in the applications and they are hereby dismissed,'' the judge held.

The judge also dismissed a similar application filed by his Co-defendant, Bayo Dada, General Manager of Tropics Securities Ltd., for lacking in merit.

He, consequently, adjourned the matter till June 23 for re-arraignment of the defendants.

Akingbola had asked the court to quash the N47.1 billion theft charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Both defendants had through their counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun and Prof. Taiwo Osipitan both senior advocates of Nigeria (SAN), challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the 22-count charge.

Olanipekun had argued that the subject matter of the alleged offences related to banking operations and capital market issues.

He contended that only the Federal High Court had the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain such under Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Olanipekun had cited a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Nov.21, 2013 in a matter filed by a former Managing Director of Finbank, Okey Nwosu, against the EFCC.

According to him, the Appeal Court had struck out the theft charge preferred against Nwosu on the grounds that the Lagos High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

He had maintained that Nwosu and Akingbola's cases were similar, adding that the lkeja High Court was bound to follow the decision of the appellate court.

Olanipekun had argued that the charge was also an abuse of court process because a similar charge involving Akingbola and the EFCC was currently pending before the Federal High Court, Lagos.

On his part, Osipitan had said that the offences allegedly committed by Dada related to buying and selling of shares on behalf of Intercontinental Bank.

Opposing both applications, the EFCC counsel, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), had urged the court to dismiss them, arguing that it had jurisdiction over the matter.

'This court has jurisdiction to entertain any matter brought under Section 14 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act,'' Obla argued.

According to him, the defendants are charged with stealing which clearly distinguishes it from Nwosu's case. (NAN)