Former MD of Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank), Dr. Erastus Akingbola
The trial of former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank), Dr. Erastus Akingbola, who is standing trial for alleged N47.1 billion theft was yesterday stalled as the lead defence counsel, Chief Felix Fagboungbe (SAN) and Mr. Deji Sasegbon (SAN), were unavoidably absent due to health challenges.
Akingbola is standing trial alongside his associate, Mr. Bayo Dada, before Justice Habeeb Abiru of an Ikeja High Court, in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly stealing the bank’s money to the tune of N47.1 billion.
When the case came up yesterday, Fagboungbe and Sasegbon, who were represented by Abubakar Shamshudeen, through their letter asked the court to vacate the six days earlier scheduled to enable them go for medical check up abroad, which was vehemently opposed by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Godwin Obla.
Obla, in opposing the adjournment argued that since there are other counsel in the defence team the absence of the lead counsel should not stall the trial.
He said there was no justification in granting the application to vacate the six days earlier scheduled as Sasegbon agreed on the dates with the prosecution without compulsion.
Obla said Sasegbon had told the court that if he was not going to be available for those dates somebody will be available.
He added that telling the court to now vacate the six days would amount to delaying the trial.
“This is not the first time the defence is attempting to disrupt the trial. The right to counsel as guarantee by the Constitution does not mean the right to be represented by only Senior Advocates,” Obla argued and urged the court to reject the application.
The court had at the last sitting adjourned till July 9, 10, 11, 12, 18,d 19 for continuation of trial.
Shamshudeen argued that though Sasegbon told the court that if he was not available, somebody will be available but unfortunately, that somebody happened to be Chief Felix Fagboungbe (SAN) who was also unavoidably absent on health ground.
Justice Abiru in his short ruling on the matter refused to vacate the six days as requested by the defence, he however, subsequently vacated just two days and adjourned the matter till July 11 for continuation of trial.
The judge stated that though Sasegbon indicated that he might not be available but he never gave any reason for his unavailability.