by Dare Lawal
The trial of lawyer and managing director of Bi Courtney Ltd, Wale Babalakin, continued today at a Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja.
Babalakin’s arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is over an alleged N4.7 billion fraud.
After today’s proceedings, the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo adjourned the matter to March 23, 2013, to allow Babalakin and his co defendants harmonize their applications, seeking to quash the charges against them.
The co-defendants include Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd. They are standing trial with Babalakin for fraudulently assisting former governor of Delta State, James Ibori to tranfer various sums of money through third party to some foreign accounts under the guise of purchasing a Challenger Jet Aircraft.
There was some drama in court today, as Babalakin, through his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, requested that the court should permit him to leave the dock and seat near the bar.
Fagbemi quoted section 210 of the administration of criminal justice law which allows a defendant to seat adjacent the dock. Fagbemi also had issues with the wooden chair provided on the dock for his client to sit. He said the chair was too hard.
But Justice Onigbanjo overruled him, insisting that Babalakin should sit on the dock. The judge stated that the section of the administration criminal justice law referred to by Fagbemi applies only to a defendant who is on summon by the court.
Justice Onigbanjo also insisted that there was no other chair available and hence Babalakin should sit on the one provided in the dock.
During proceedings, counsel to the defendant, Chief Lateef Fagbemi told the court that his client had filed two applications seeking to quash the charges against Babalakin on ground incompetence. Fagbemi said the two applications had different grounds but both sought to quash the charges.
At this point, the EFCC Counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs objected. He said it was an abuse of court process for the defendant to file two applications for the same purpose. He called it a ploy by the defendant to delay justice. He urged the court to strike out one of the applications.
Justice Onigbanjo ruled that the two applications should be consolidated. He subsequently adjourned the matter to 27 March, 2013.