Alleged N5bn Fraud: Supreme Court returns Erastus Akingbola to High Court
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Erastus Akingbola, to return to the Federal High Court, Lagos, to answer his alleged N5 billion fraud charge.
Mr Akingbola is a former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc.
Justice Tanko Muhammad, leading a five-man panel, affirmed the Feb. 20, 2015 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lagos which overturned the Federal High Court’s decision striking out the charges against Akingbola.
Justice Sidi Bage, who read the lead judgment of the apex court, held that Mr Akingbola’s appeal challenging the Court of Appeal’s judgment lacked merit.
He ordered that the case file be remitted to the Federal High Court, Lagos, for expeditious trial and to be handled by another judge.
Justice Kumai Akaahs, a member of the panel, in addition to agreeing with the lead judgment, said that he was worried by the stand of the trial judge in the matter.
Mr Akaahs said that Justice Archibong acted like a military dictator when he descended into the arena and chided the prosecution for their inability to prosecute and therefore removed his toga of impartiality.
“He constituted himself into a military dictator and this is regarded as judicial tyranny and a case of bias was established against the judge,” he said.
According to Mr Akaahs, while we have immunity, we do not have absolute powers to do and undo.
Mr Akingbola’s trial was prematurely terminated in April 2012 by Justice Charles Archibong, whose decision in the case later culminated in his compulsory retirement from the bench.
Mr Archibong, in a judgment he delivered on April 2, 2012, struck out the 26 counts contained in a charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), against Mr Akingbola.
He said this was on the grounds that the prosecution was not diligent in handling the case.
The judge described the EFCC prosecution team as a drain in the public purse and directed the Attorney-General of the Federation to disband the team.