SaharaReporters has learned that while businessman Wale Babalakin’s lawyer was telling one court today that he was too ill to appear in court, he was in the Federal High Court in Lagos obtaining an administrative injunction to prevent the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from laying a finger on him or infringing on his ‘fundamental’ rights.
A federal high court judge in Lagos granted Babalakin’s wishes, and coincidentally or conveniently adjourned further hearing in the case to coincide with the EFCC’s new adjourned date of arraignment of Babalakin for allegedly laundering of N2 billion for the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, to December 12.
Earlier today at a Lagos high court Babalakin, the embattled chairman of Bi-Courtney Construction Company, was to be charged with using such business associates as Stabilini Visinoni Limited, Alex Okoh and Renix Nigeria Limited, to launder funds for the former governor
Babalakin’s counsel, Bolaji Ayorinde SAN, who represented Stabilini Visinoni Limited and Bi-Courtney Limited respectively, gave the excuse that his client fell ill suddenly and was admitted in a hospital and was therefore unable to appear in court for his arraignment. The second defendant, Alex Okoh, was however present in the court room.
In a 27-count charge, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged that Mr. Babalakin and his associates, including Bi-Courtney construction group, Stabilini, Renix Nigeria Limited, and a certain Alex Okoh, expedited the fund transfers through Mauritius under the ploy that the funds were for a construction contract for Delta State.
The EFCC charged, among others, that between the months of May and December 2006, Wale Babalakin corruptly conferred over N1.3billion to the benefit of former Governor James Ibori through various third parties to Erin Aviation Account in Mauritius for the purchase of a Challenger Jet Aircraft.
In what suggests he is a front man for Ibori, Babalakin coordinated Stabilini Visioni and Bi-Courtney to separately launder huge funds for the former governor.
The anti-graft commission also said the sum of $500,000; $1million and $1.5m were laundered through Interactive Technologies Limited/ TN FOCUS. Through SOPETROL OIL and GAS LIMITED, the sum of $1m was said to have also been transferred. Another HYUNDAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES was used to transfer a sum of $2m, where all stated transfers were made on behalf of Ibori to an Erin Aviation account in Mauritius. The EFCC alleged that Babalakin and his fingered associates were aware that those funds were as a result of criminal conduct on the part of Ibori.
SaharaReporters investigations show that there were communications between the EFCC and Mr. Babalakin on November 26th when he briefly showed up at the Abuja offices of the EFCC, he was then granted and administrative bail with the suspect assuring the commission of compliance to appear for arraignment today, and with no reference to any medical condition.
After the court session today, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, told journalists that although it was not abnormal for human beings to be sick, it was worrisome for one to fall ill ‘overnight’ without previous symptoms.
Mr. Jacobs promised that the anti-graft agency would find out what illness may have suddenly befallen the first defendant, Mr. Babalakin, in the case of fraud and collusion with Mr. Ibori, who is himself serving a jail term in the United Kingdom.
As it turns out, Babalakin was in another courtroom, manipulating Nigeria’s corrupt and convoluted legal system, which protects and provides for the wealthy, to protect and provide for himself.
Ten days ago, the federal government terminated its agreement with Mr. Babalakin’s Bi-Courtney for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, which was given to the company in mid-2009, citing the failure of the company to fulfill its agreements on the construction. The reconstruction was then divided between two companies: Julius Berger Plc and R.C.C Nigeria Limited.