Promoting Good Governance.

Court Defers Ruling On Babalakin’s No Case Submission

A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has adjourned ruling on the “no case” submission by the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, WaleBabalakin, to September 23, 2013.

Babalakin and four others are charged with conspiracy to commit felony laundering about N4.7 billion.

At the last adjourned date, Babalakin’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, prayed the court to quash the charge against his clients on the grounds that the fiat issued by the attorney general of Lagos State in 2004 on which basis the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC preferred the charges, had become obsolete as the Criminal Procedure Law 2003 which was relied on in granting it had been repealed.

Tayo Oyetibo who appeared for the second defendant also informed the court of an application dated January 20, 2013 and a written address of same date, in which he prayed the court to quash the charges against his client.

Like the first defendant’s counsel, Oyetibo also challenged the use of the fiat to institute the case, adding that the proof of evidence did not support the charge against his client.

However, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, in a counter-affidavit dated February 12, 2013 told the court to disregard the submissions made by Babalakin’s counsel that the fiat used to initiate charges against his client was obsolete and so was unreliable.

“It is not the Criminal Justice Law that governs who can prosecute criminal cases in Lagos state but sections 174 and 211 of the 1999 Constitution,” Jacobs argued.

This section, he argued, did not give a monopoly right to institute a criminal suit against any person to the attorney General of the federation or a state.

Jacobs said that agencies such as the EFCC, the Police, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have powers to prefer criminal charges against anyone in any court of law within the federation.

At the resumed hearing of the case today, A.A. Layonu, counsel to the defendant, told the court that the first defendant was not present in court, citing “serious” ill-health.

When the presiding judge, juctice  Adeniyi Onigbanjo asked ifBabalakin was within the court premises, his counsel replied that he was within the vicinity of the court but could not attend the sitting owing to a mobility challenge that would require the use of a wheel chair for him to be brought into the court room.

Tayo Olukotun, who held brief for Rotimi Jacobs said the prosecution was not informed about Babalakin’s absence until thedefence counsel told the court.

Justice Onigbanjo then adjourned ruling on the no case submission to September 23, 2013.

Babalakin was arraigned by the EFCC, alongside Alex Okoh and three companies: Stabilini Vision Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited andRenix Nigeria Limited on January 17, 2013, on a 27-count criminal charge.

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