The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is alleging bias against Justice Charles Achibong in his handling of the trial of Dr. Erastus Akingbola, former Group Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, and has accordingly forwarded a petition to the National Judicial Commission (NJC).
Akingbola is standing trial before Justice Achibong of the Federal High Court, Lagos, for a number of offences, including granting of unsecured loans worth several millions of naira and abuse of office.
EFCC counsel, Godwin Obla (SAN), acting on the Commission’s letter to the NJC, filed a motion in the court on Wednesday, asking the judge to stop hearing of the case.
But the judge declined to withdraw from the case, saying he would continue to preside over the matter in the absence of contrary directive from a higher authority. He said the case would proceed in his court until the hearing and determination of motion by the Commission.
Meanwhile, the case against the former bank CEO was adjourned over confusion on which of the three charges before the court was valid. The prosecution had twice amended the charge against Akingbola since the commencement of the case before Justice Achibong. The judge cited a 26-count amended charge newly filed by the prosecution, whereas the defence, led by Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN), ascribed validity to the 22-count charge which the defendant had filed an objection to.
Akingbola had been initially arraigned before Justice Mohammed Idris, on 28 counts. But the case was thereafter transferred to Achibong. However, instead of proceeding on the same charge, the EFCC amended it, pruning down the counts to 22, to which the defence filed an objection.
The objection was still waiting to be sorted out when the prosecution again embarked on an upward review of the charge to 26 counts. Justice Achibong adjourned hearing of the defendant’s objection to January 25, when the valid charge is expected to have been determined.