by Stanley Azuakola
The approach of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the prosecution of the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Wale Babalakin, is a curious one.
Nigerians were surprised to hear that Babalakin had been declared wanted by the commission. It seemed very strange considering that men of the commission had mounted 24-hour surveillance of the businessman when he was reportedly on admission at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. But there it was: a notice from the commission that Babalakin “who is dark-complexioned and speaks English and Yoruba fluently” had gone underground.
The head of communications , Bi-Courtney Limited, Dipo Kehinde, immediately denied the EFCC assertion when it first broke yesterday. “Since Babalakin came out of the hospital, he has reported at the EFCC office in Lagos more than five times. He was also there on Tuesday. He is on EFCC administration bail. He is not a man on the run. We have a date in court tomorrow,” said Kehinde.
True to Kehinde’s words, Babalakin was in the courtroom of Justice Adeniyi Inigbanjo at the Lagos High Court today, ready to face the charges of criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N4.7billion brought against him by the EFCC.
So what was that EFCC notice about? That’s a mystery, especially for the Bi-Courtney team.
Kehinde, the head of communications, said, “We don’t understand the game that EFCC is playing. This is nothing but a deep political game.”
Considering that the EFCC has been very lukewarm in the fight against corruption in recent years, it is inevitable that the odd times when a high profile suspect is arrested or arraigned in court, political undertones are insinuated.
Babalakin, for instance, was close to the corridors of power until his clash with the FG over the revocation of the contract for the repair of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, awarded to Bi-Courtney Limited. Another example is Aminu Lamido, the son of Jigawa governor, Sule Lamido, whose money laundering case in Kano could not hold as scheduled yesterday. It’s believed that the arrest and prosecution of the younger Lamido is being done to whip his father into line.
For now, Babalakin’s case has proceeded as scheduled. Hopefully, the law would be allowed to take its course – no shenanigans from the EFCC or the accused, no lazy prosecution, no unnecessary delay tactics. Just prosecution, defence and the law.