Erastus Akingbola Opposes EFCC’s Petition against Judge

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Former MD of Intercontinental Bank, Dr. Erastus Akingbola
By Davidson Iriekpen
Former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, yesterday said it was wrong and unethical for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to seek the disqualification of the present judge trying the criminal charges preferred against him before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Akingbola is standing trial at the Federal High Court in Lagos for offences ranging from granting of unsecured loans and abuse of office to money laundering.
The EFCC had in a motion urged Justice Archibong to disqualify himself from continuing with the criminal matter. In the motion, EFCC accused the judge of bias in the manner he was conducting the case, and asked that the case should be taken over from him. But Akingbola in a counter-affidavit to the motion, stressed that it would not only be unjust and inequitable to accede to EFCC’s request, adding that it  would also be unfair if the anti-graft agency was allowed to pick and choose the judge to handle a matter in which it is a party.
He argued that the EFCC’s motion was filed in bad faith and abuse of court process, because the allegation of bias raised against the judge was in respect of another civil matter he had earlier filed to protect his fundamental human rights against the abuse of power by the EFCC, and wondered now what happened in a different matter entirely would be transferred to the criminal matter.
When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Archibong, EFCC’s lawyer, Emmanuel Ukala, told the court of the pending motion seeking to transfer the case file to another judge, but that Akingbola’s lawyers just served him with a counter-affidavit and written address to the motion in court.
He said the counter-affidavit was very copious and that he would need an adjournment to reply to the issues raised in the counter-affidavit in accordance with fair hearing, a request which was not opposed by the lead defence counsel, Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN).

Responding, Justice Archibong said he would love the matter to be concluded as soon as possible.
The judge said: “I gave a long adjournment but I do not know why the learned silk for the defence just filed and served his counter.”
The judge then fixed January 31 for adoption of written brief in respect of the motion, before which the EFCC must have replied to the counter.

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