The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday, re-arraigned former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, for allegedly using the sum of N179, 385,000,000 belonging to the bank for fictitious transactions.
The re-arraignment of Akingbola before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun is consequent upon a further amendment to the charges, which the EFCC filed against him since 2009.
It would be recalled that Justice Charles Archibong of the same court, who had first presided over the matter, had thrown out the charges on the grounds of lack of diligent prosecution.
However, not satisfied, the EFCC approached the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal which, upturned the decision of Justice Abang and subsequently directed Akingbola to return to the High Court to face his trial.
Instead, Akingbola approached the Supreme Court, which specifically in May 2018 confirmed the decision of the Appeal Court.
At the resume proceedings on the criminal charge, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, brought before Justice Olatoregun, a further amended charge and urged the court to allow Akingbola to be re-arraigned.
The presiding Justice Olatoregun allowed the request and Akingbola was re-arraigned.
In the 22 counts amended charge, the Commission alleged that Akingbola used the N179bn, “to buy Intercontinental Bank Plc’s shares, thereby inflating the market price of Intercontinental Bank Plc’s shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”
According to the EFCC, this particular offence remains a contravention of Section 105(2)(a) of the Investment and Securities Act 2007, and that same is punishable under Section 115(a) of the same Act.
Akingbola was further accused by the anti-graft agency of reckless granting of credit facilities to five firms, which did not furnish the bank with adequate security for the loans.
The Commission listed the firms, which were each granted a loan of N8 billion without adequate security under Akingbola’s watch to include: Soo-Kok Holding Limited; Tofa General Enterprises; Cinca Nigeria Limited; Harmony Trust and Investment Limited; and Stanzus Investment Limited.
In submitting before Justice Olatoregun, the EFCC insisted that Akingbola violated Section 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16(1)(a) of the same Act.