You Must Face Trial, S’Court Tells Erastus Akingbola

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  • AMCON takes over Oduah’s assets  CBN intervenes in forex market with fresh $293m

By Obinna Chima in Lagos and Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, to return to the Federal High Court, Lagos, to face his trial on alleged N5 billion fraud charges.

The Apex Court gave the order after it dismissed Akingbola’s appeal challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal for lacking merit.

Also yesterday, Justice M.S. Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, granted an injunction against Sea Petroleum Oil & Gas Limited, whose chief promoter is former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi on the application of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Akingbola’s trial was prematurely terminated in April 2012 by Justice Charles Archibong, whose decision in the case later earned him a compulsory retirement from the bench.

Delivering judgment on the appeal, the five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Tanko Muhammad unanimously affirmed the February 20, 2015, judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lagos which had overturned the Federal High Court’s decision striking out the charges.

The court accordingly ordered that the case be remitted to the Federal High Court and handled by another judge in the Lagos Division.

Justice Sidi Bage, who read the lead judgment of the apex court also ordered that the case be given accelerated hearing.

Recall that Justice Archibong (now retired) had in a judgment delivered on April 2, 2012 struck out the 26 counts contained in a charge numbered FHC/L/443C/2013 filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against Akingbola.

Justice Archibong in striking out the suit held that the prosecution was not diligent in the handling of the case.

He had described the EFCC prosecution team as a drain in the public purse and directed the Attorney-General of the Federation to disband the team.

Based on the manner he handled the matter, he was compulsory retired by the National Judicial Council.

AMCON takes over Oduah’s assets

Meanwhile, Justice M.S. Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, has granted an injunction against Sea Petroleum Oil & Gas Limited, whose chief promoter is former Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi on the application of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

A statement from AMCON explained that the Senator had been having a running battle with corporation over her inability to settle her debt of nearly N20 billion. 

It explained that AMCON had purchased the Eligible Bank Assets (EBAs) of Sea Petroleum & Gas Limited from Union Bank Plc sometime in 2012. 

“But despite the overtures and genuine efforts made by AMCON to reach an amicable settlement, the Senator and her co-promoters have remained recalcitrant.

“Having exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution of the humongous debt, AMCON had no other choice than to refer the matter to court. 

“The order also affects Princess Stella Oduah’s other business interests for which AMCON has since appointed Moyosore Jubril Onigbanjo, as Receiver over the assets of Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi; Sea Petroleum Oil & Gas Limited; Sea Petroleum and Gas FZE as well as Star Tourism and Hotels Limited,” it stated.

According to the statement, the court also ordered the freezing of the funds of Sea Petroleum & Gas Limited and its affiliated companies and principal promoters held anywhere by any entity or persons in Nigeria and authorised AMCON and its Receiver, Moyosore Jubril Onigbanjo to take over all assets pledged as collateral for the facility by Sea Petroleum Oil & Gas Limited. 

It explained that Justice Hassan specifically ordered Sea Petroleum Oil & Gas Limited and its affiliated companies to hand over the company’s business, which sits on over 9000 square metres of land in Lagos State along the Lekki-Epe Express Way; two Tank Farms of 500 metric tonnes capacity; a property at Maiyegun Tourism Zone, Lekki Peninsula Scheme 11, Lagos Island and a filling station complex at kilometre 14, Lekki Epe Expressway, Ikota, Lagos State.

The court order also listed a host of other assets across the country including Plot 2, block 12C, Babafemi Osapa Crescent Lekki, Lagos State; Block 5, house 4A Mobolaji Johnson Estate, Lekki, Lagos State; Office/filling station at Jakande, Lekki, Lagos State; Office complex 1,2 and 3 km 14, Lekki-epe Expressway, Ikota, Lagos State; Filing station Complex at km 14, Lekki Epe Expressway, Ikota Lagos State; Staff residential quarters, Ikota Lagos State; E25-E36, Gat Oboh Drive, Millennium Estate, Oniru, Lagos State and F3-F5, SPG Road, Millennium Estate, Oniru, Lagos State. The rest include, SPG Agungi 2, Lekki Lagos State; Office/filling station complex at Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, FCT, Abuja; Gas plant at Karu, FCT, Abuja; Filing station Complex, Lugbe, FCT Abuja and Agriculture Farm at Kuje, FCT Abuja.

In compliance with the order of the court, AMCON through its Receiver, Moyosore Jubril Onigbanjo, SAN, at about 11:00am on Friday May 18, 2018, simultaneously took possession of the assets of Sea Petroleum & Gas Limited and its affiliated companies. 

“The Court in granting the injunction ordered the Inspector General of Police, Assistant Inspectors General of Police, and the Commissioner of Police in charge of Lagos State, their deputies and all other police officers under them to assist Moyosore Jubril Onigbanjo, SAN, the Receiver and the Bailiffs of the Federal High Court in the enforcement of the orders,” it added. 

The statement pointed out that AMCON under Ahmed Kuru, its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer has maintained that there will be no sacred cows in its bid to recover the huge debts in the hands of a few Nigerians.

CBN Intervenes in Forex Market with Fresh $293m

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday supplied the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) of the inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market the sum of $293 million.

A statement from the Bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, confirming the figures, indicated that the sum, as in previous interventions, were in favour of interests in the agricultural, airlines, petroleum products, raw materials and machinery sectors.

Okorafor reiterated that the objective of the CBN intervention in the foreign exchange market remained to ensure liquidity in the foreign exchange market and enhance production activities. 

He explained that the CBN would continue to ensure liquidity in the interbank sector of the market as well as sustain its interventions in order to drive economic growth and guarantee market stability.

Meanwhile, the naira remained stable and exchanged for N361/$1 in the BDC segment of the market yesterday.