Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr Wale Babalakin
There were fears yesterday over the life of the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr Wale Babalakin, with increased presence of riot policemen, following an alleged directive from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), to arrest him in spite of a restraining order of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Although authorities at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, foiled an earlier attempt on Sunday afternoon, some of the operatives said that they had received orders to forcibly take Babalakin away from his hospital bed to stand trial at the Ikeja High Court, tomorrow.
The EFCC had filed a 27-count charge at the court in connection with an alleged money laundering offence.
But a Federal High Court has restrained the anti-graft agency from going ahead with his arraignment and trial.
The drama had actually started last Tuesday when over 20 riot policemen and EFCC operatives stormed the hospital to abduct the ailing businessman, but were prevented from carrying out their mission by the management of the hospital.
Bi-Courtney had described the move as a new trend in judicial administration in Nigeria saying it reflects desperation by EFCC to violate provisions of the law and constitution in order to circumvent justice, and a violation of the basic human rights of the citizen.
The Federal High Court order, which restrained the EFCC from proceeding with Babalakin’s trial and arraignment, specifically stated:
“Also perusing the amended statement, it is clear that serious issues of constitutionalism and the exercise of powers of public institutions and bodies have been raised. By the provisions of Order 34 Rule 6 (a) of the rules of this court, it appears to me that if the order sought is an order of prohibition and certiorari and leave is granted, the grant should operate as a stay of proceedings to which the appropriate application relates.
“Relief 1 is granted as prayed, an order is hereby made granting leave to the applicant herein to apply for an order of prohibition against the respondents and any other officers, agents, or security agencies of the Government of the Federation, including without limitation to the Nigeria Police Force or the State Security Service, acting by themselves, or through any of their officers, agents, privies or otherwise, howsoever, prohibiting them from proceeding with the arraignment or trial of the applicant further to Charge No.ID/239C/2012 pending at the Ikeja Division of the High Court of Lagos State, which was preferred by the respondents.”
Earlier on Sunday, an operative of the agency sneaked into Babalakin’s room, while he was alone, but was accosted by some vigilant staff of the hospital.
The unidentified operative, who pretended to be a visitor to gain access to the room, later identified himself as a staff of EFCC after Babalakin had raised an alarm that attracted the attention of the medical personnel on duty.