Posted by News Express | 24 December 2012 | 3,402 times
After taking refuge in a hospital bed for almost a month in a failed bid to escape justice, Lagos business man, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), today came face-to-face with his worst fear. He will sleep in the cell of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), tonight and will appear before an Ikeja High Court in Lagos on January 17, 2013 to take his plea on a 27-count charge of offences bordering on money laundering.
The Bi-Courtney Chairman had checked into the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on November 28 as the EFCC closed in on him, but he couldn’t find relief even in his hospital bed as the anti-graft agency laid siege to the hospital on December 4, keeping vigil for the man they claimed was plotting to flee from justice.
Having failed, last Friday, to convince Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to stop EFCC from prosecuting him, Babalakin today discharged himself from LUTH and, expectedly, walked into the waiting arms of EFCC operatives as he made to go home.
Dismissing Babalakin’s suit on Friday, Justice Buba had said it was wrong for him to approach the court to enforce his fundamental human right when there was a pending criminal charge against him at the state high court. He said the personal liberty of an individual was not absolute. Justice Buba said it would not augur well for the peace and progress of the society if any person with a criminal charge in a court approaches another to enforce his fundamental human right; noting that “nobody is above the law, no matter the person’s position or status.”
He said Babalakin as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria should not be afraid to face the court and, therefore, dismissed his application as lacking in merit.
News Express reports that Justice Buba had on December 17 refused to grant an ex-parte order restraining the EFCC from arresting or detaining Babalakin without hearing from the respondents. Rather, the judge ordered Babalakin to serve the respondents to enable them respond to the motion on notice.
Similarly, Justice Idris had on December 15 dismissed a similar application by Babalakin for an order of prohibition against the EFCC and the Attorney General of Federation from arraigning him before the Lagos High Court on the grounds that the application was defective as it failed to comply with Order 35 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, which require the applicant to depose to an affidavit after serving the court papers on the parties in the suit.
The judge held that failure to depose to such affidavit and file same before the court had robbed the court of its jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The court vacated the order it earlier granted the applicant permitting him to institute the prohibition suit against the EFCC and subsequently awarded N5,000 cost against the applicant.
With Babalakin now in EFCC custody, the cost has become clear for his trial alongside Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Renix Nigeria Limited. Their sin: Alleged transfer huge sums of money on behalf of the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, through third parties to some foreign accounts under the guise of purchasing a Challenger Jet Aircraft. Ibori, who ran away from Nigeria in a desperate bid to escape justice, is currently serving a jail term in Britain after the move boomeranged, culminating in his arrest in Dubai and extradition to Britain, where he was tried and convicted for money laundering.
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