|Saturday, May 25, 2013|
* NO COUNTRY PAGES FOUND FOR THIS ISSUE
BUSINESSProsecutors Are A Drain On Public Purse - Judge
06/09/12, Biodun Omojola
The case of fraud filed against the former managing director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has being quashed by a Federal High Court in Lagos. Akingbola and others were standing trial before the court on a 26-count amended charge bordering on stealing over N42 billion belonging to depositors while he was head of the bank. Apart from discharging Akingbola of the charges the court also barred the prosecution from appearing before the court or another judge of the Federal High Court over the matter.
Justice Charles Archibong reached that decision because of what he termed the "serious and professional incompetence" of the prosecution team of five Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Delivering his ruling, Justice Archibong directed Nigeria's attorney-general and minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to disband the prosecution team for serious abuse of court process and incompetence in their prosecution of the charges against Akingbola.
According to the judge, the team is "a drain on the public purse, a fact the AGF should be mindful of now if he was not before. This prosecution team has chosen to pursue a campaign to scandalise the court, which amounts to serious and professional incompetence in the prosecution of the accused. This prosecution team or any part of it shall not be given further audience in this court in relation to the charges against the accused either before this presiding judge or any other judge of the Federal High Court, for the reason, I have given in the foregoing." He, however, gave the attorney-general leave to re-prosecute Akingbola if he so wishes saying he may "wish to regain control of this process to prosecute the accused in another charge he chooses before any appropriate court. (This) he can, of course, do so at any time of his choosing."
Admonishing the prosecuting team, the judge said the team "presently employed, indulging in professional incompetence to the extreme, had been unmindful of the accused right to have the case against him clearly stated. They have been dismissive of his right to a 'speedy' trial, which in reality should be the credible procedure. I therefore dismiss the charges amended or otherwise for this incompetent and abusive prosecuting team. I discharge the accused accordingly and leave the AGF to consider his options." Before freeing Akingbola of the charges, the court had earlier allowed the prosecution to amended the charges, even though, it was contested by counsel to Akingbola, Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN) who told the court the prosecution was employing a piece meal approach in its prosecution of the charges.
* NO E K'ABO COVER IMAGE FOUND