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Docked Babalakin denied comfort chair as trial stalled

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A Nigerian High Court sitting in Ikeja, has adjourned proceedings till 27 March in the ongoing trial of the Managing Director of Bi Coutrney Ltd, Dr. Wale Babalakin by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC over an alleged N4.7 billion fraud.

Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo adjourned the matter to allow Babalakin and his co defendants harmonize their applications, seeking to quash the charges against them.

Justice Onigbanjo during proceedings today overruled Babalakin Lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi’s requested that the court allow his client leave the dock and seat near the bar.

Fagbemi quoted section 210 of the administration of criminal justice law which allows a defendant to seat adjacent the dock.

He also raised issue with the chair on the dock saying that the wooden chair was too hard for his client to sit on.
Justice Onigbanjo insisted that Babalakin should seat on the dock as the section of the administration criminal justice law referred to by his lawyer applies only to a defendant who is on summon by the court.

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The judge also insisted on the defendants sitting on the wooden chair in the dock as that was the only available chair in the court.

Wale Babalakin (SAN), Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd are standing trial for fraudulently assisting former governor of Delta State, James Ibori to tranfer various sums of money through third party to some foreign accounts under the guise of purchasing a Challenger Jet Aircraft.

The EFCC also alleged that Babalakin and his co defendants between May and September 2012 fraudulently assisted James to transfer various sums through various parties to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of the said aircraft.

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The various companies that were used to transfer the alleged stolen fund includes Interactive Technologies Ltd, Sopetrol Oil and Gas Ltd, Casaka Nigeria Company Ltd, Geofluids Ltd, ABS Ltd and Hyundai Heavy Industries Nig. Ltd.

At today’s proceeding, Counsel to Babalakin, Chief Lateef Fagbemi told the court that his client had filed two applications seeking to quash the charge.

He told the court that although the grounds for seeking the reliefs to quash in the two applications are different, the two application seeks to basically seek to quash the charge on ground incompetence.

EFCC Counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs however raised objection to the application saying that filing two applications for same purpose of quashing the trial amounts to abuse of court process and an attempt to delay justice.

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He urged the court to strike out one of the applications.

Ruling on the matter, Justice Onigbanjo ordered the defendants to consolidate their applications to quash the charge.

He subsequently adjourned the matter to 27 March, 2013.

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