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Babalakin’s lawyer quits

By AKEEB ALARAPE

The much-touted arraignment of the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Olawale Babalakin (SAN) over alleged money laundering suffered a setback yesterday as his lead counsel, Chief Ebun Sofunde (SAN) withdrew from the case.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had slammed a 27-count charge against Babalakin, Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visinoni Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd for fraudulently assisting convicted former governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori to transfer about N4.7 billion through a third party to some foreign accounts.

At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Sofunde announced his withdrawal from the matter, citing personal reason. His withdrawal, which was contained in an application dated December 4, 2012, took everyone in the court by surprise. But the senior advocate said he was ready to make his reason for withdrawal public if his client wished to challenge his action.

At the last sitting of the court on the matter on November 29, Sofunde had told the court that his client (Babalakin) was on admission at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) over an undisclosed ailment, hence his absence in court. He told the court that he had earlier forwarded a letter to the registrar of the court in which there was a medical report by one Dr. Charles Harmon on Babalakin’s health condition.

He also informed the court then that Babalakin’s health deteriorated immediately after he appeared at the Abuja office of the EFCC on November 26, for questioning. He further asked the court to adjourn the matter to allow his client recover from the undisclosed sickness. But at the resumption of the matter yesterday, Sofunde took everybody by surprise when he announced his withdrawal from the defense team. Justice Onigbanjo granted the request of Sofunde but later stood down the case as requested by EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) to enable him attend to a sister case filed by Babalakin at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking to stop EFCC from prosecuting him.

When the court resumed hearing on the matter, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), who took over from Sofunde told the court that two applications were pending before the court dated December 11, 2012, seeking for adjournment of the trial and for the court to admit the first defendant (Babalakin) to bail. Ayorinde, however, drew the attention of the court to EFCC’s bombardment of LUTH, which he said was against the directive of the court that asked EFCC to verify Babalakin’s health status.

He said the application for bail was premised on the health condition of the first defendant. EFCC’s counsel, however, said the alleged siege by the operatives of the anti-graft commission was meant to put the agency on alert to avoid James Ibori’s scenario. Jacobs urged the court for time to respond on the applications as they were only served on him on Tuesday’s evening.

His request got the support of other counsel in the matter, which included Tayo Oyetibo, Dr. Joseph Nwobike and Roland Otaru, all senior advocates, who also demanded for more time to either be served with the court processes or to respond to them. January 17, 2013 was later fixed for the hearing of the pending applications and possible arraignment of the defendants.

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11 Comments

  1. Emma December 13, 2012 at 3:28 am

    Babanlakin, should by now b in prisons 2 serve as warning 2 those helping or stealing our money,d situation in naija is so bad .people are stealing money 4 d generation yet unborn ,while d poor are dying everyday in numbers.God will judge u all

  2. Kunle December 13, 2012 at 4:54 am

    This case is very shallow and not TOTALLY WHOLISTIC? How did they transfer the money abroad? Which banks? Banks are culpable in this case – if the case is genuine! Otherwise, EFCC, Lawyers and Judges are just wasting our time in the country.

    • Say you, Say me December 13, 2012 at 6:49 am

      Banks are always culpable in these sort of fraud cases. But why they are never sanctioned beats me. If there isn’t an enabling act, lets have one.

  3. ike December 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

    See head! The amount of food…this guy chunks…can feed like 20 street kids a day. Truth. But why the greed? The same neglected street kids are the armed robbers, Boko haram and assassins of tomorrow.

  4. IFY December 13, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Very Clean with Full Options Blackberry 9800 Torch1 from RIM ,Canada @ a cheap price Per unit and for bulk buyer price goes down. 0-8-0-9-8-9-9-6-9-0-3

  5. fitex December 13, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Legal abrakatabra to delay justice!

  6. Alhaji Dan-azumi Gana December 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    EFCC, you are only good in arresting ordinary people, but you are not good in checking and arresting government officials that travel abroad in the name of official duty with millions of dollars. My advise to EFCC is that, from now on ward, the president and other government officials should be properly checked before leaving the country to any where.

  7. SYLVESTER December 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    This childish play is ridiculous for Babalakin. You are not painting a good image for the Nigeria legal institution. You are a SAN. You should live by example. Even if you are culpabale, why not come out and clear the air and you will be free. That Ibori is in Jail in London is a clear indication of a good legal institution in London. It is better your case is tried in Nigeria and you will not go to Jail. You will be covered in Nigeria ‘method’. If London court arraignS you, then take it from me that you must join Ibori as a prison mate. Be wise. I am not suprised that your employee lawyers who would not want to soil their names are resigning. A word is enough for the wise

  8. TEE December 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    PAY BACK PERIOD. People lets talk about money making & helping ourselves, Pls join the Nigerian Facebook where u make money on everybody u invite. There’re 2 many poor pple in this country, coming together, we can rescue many. YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY PAID DIRECTLY 2 UR BANK ACCOUNT EVEN IN NIGERIA. Just click & register: http://www.netcontacts.com.ng/invitation/?invitationcode=7857022625

  9. Emmanuel Omeh December 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Babalakin or whatever his name should face the music even on wheel chair,that’s how it is done else where,look at Lagos Ibadan express way bi courtney messed the expansion up,ate the money,the road have only this year consumed a lot of innocent souls, OMG!

  10. Macmo December 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Lawyers are d most currupt in dis country, yet they clain to be d coustodian of d precepts.

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