Friday, March 6, 2015 8:00 am
Barely two weeks after the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division ordered his retrial over alleged N5 billion corruption charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr Erastus Akingbola has approached the Supreme Court to upturn the judgement.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision delivered on February 20, 2015 upturned the judgment of a Federal High Court, Lagos delivered by Justice Charles Archibong (now retired) which dismissed the 26 count charges against Akingbola.
Justice Amina Augie in her lead judgement declared the judgement of the lower court a nullity.
Dissatisfied, Akingbola in his Notice of Appeal, filed by his lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN is asking the apex court to allow his appeal and set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
Akingbola’s appeal is anchored on two grounds namely: “that the justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law when they held that the trial judge (Justice Archibong) dismissed the charge and discharge Akingbola without stating the grounds on which the decision was based.
“That the lower court erred in law when it held that any bystander, who watched what transpired that day in court, would certainly come away with the impression that the appellant (EFCC) did not get a fair hearing.”
Akingbola stated that the principle of fair hearing is not applicable to only one party in the proceedings but to all parties before the court.
He added that at all relevant times, EFCC was given opportunity to proceed with the arraignment and trial of Akingbola but elected not to do so. Akingbola stated that the trial judge had inherent jurisdiction to prevent an abuse of the process of court and prevent unnecessary oppression and violation of Akingbola’s right of fair hearing.
“The learned trial judge was at liberty to invoke the court’s inherent powers to prevent an abuse of the judicial process and dismiss the charge before the court,” the appellant stated.
Besides, Akingbola added that the trial judge was at liberty to regard the conduct of EFCC counsel in relation to the intentional abuse of the judicial process as reprehensible and condemnable.
The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division had in its decision declared the judgement of the lower court a nullity, and ordered that the charge be remitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta for re-assignment to another judge for retrial on merit and for accelerated hearing.
The appellate court in its lead judgement held that a Judge must have a sound basis for any judgment, as a judgment cannot be made in vague.
Justice Archibong on April 2, 2012 dismissed charge No: FHC/L/443C/2013 filed by the EFCC against Dr Akingbola for want of diligent prosecution by the anti-graft agency.