Henry Ojelu/ Judiciary correspondent
Dr Wale Babalakin
The hide and seek game between Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and businessman Dr. Wale Babalakin over his arraignment on allegation of a N4.7 billion fraud, finally came to an end Thursday when the Bi-Courtney boss was arraigned in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
The EFCC today properly arraigned Babalakin, Chairman of Bi-Courtney Ltd before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.
He was charged alongside Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Ltd., Bi-Courtney Ltd. and Renix Nigeria Ltd. for fraudulently transferring N4.7 billion on behalf of convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
The EFCC alleged in a 27-count charge filed before the court that the defendants fraudulently assisted Ibori to transfer various sums, through various parties, to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of a Challenger Jet aircraft.
Babalakin and his co defendants are facing a 27-count charge bordering on conspiracy, retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct and corruptly conferring benefit on account of public action.
Previous efforts to arraign the defendants on 29 November, 2012 and 12 December, 2012, were stalled after Babalakin’s counsel told the court that he was receiving medical attention at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.
While in the hospital, Babalakin filed a suit before a federal high court asking the court to restrain the EFCC from arraigning him.
The court turned down the application, paving the way for the EFCC to go ahead with the arraignment.
On being discharged from LUTH, Babalakin later reported to the EFCC office and was given an administrative bail.
He was to report back to the EFCC office yesterday before his arraignment Thursday. Since he did not show up, the EFCC declared him wanted believing he had absconded.
Babalakin however appeared in court today to face his trial.
After his arraignment, Babalakin’s lawyer Mr A. Akoni urged the court to grant his client bail on self recognition.
The EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) did not oppose the bail but urged the court to set the bail on terms that will enable the defendant appear in court.
As at the time of filing this report, the court was yet to set the condition for his bail.
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