EFCC Witness: We Did not Recommend the Take Over of Intercontinental Bank

Erastus Akingbola
Erastus Akingbola

By Akinwale akintunde

The trial of ex-Managing Director of the now- defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, over the allegation of granting “unsecured credit facilities” continued yesterday, with a former official of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr. Paul Akali, telling the court that the joint team of NDIC/CBN, which carried out various examinations on the defunct bank, never recommended that the bank should be taken over.

Akali, who is one of the external examiners who looked into the bank’s books in May 2009, stated this while being cross- examined by Dr. Akigbola’s counsel, Professor Taiwo Osipitan, SAN.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Akingbola, on the allegation of granting “unsecured credit facilities” worth billions of Naira to different companies, among others.

According to EFCC, the alleged offence violates Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering Act of 2004.

Akali, who was the 1st prosecution witness to testify in the matter, while being led by the Prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, had told the court the roles played by his team, which led to the removal of Dr. Akingbola as the Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, as well as taking over of the bank by Access Bank Plc in 2009.

At the resumed hearing of the matter before Justice Ayokunle Faji yesterday, the EFCC witness told the court that, even though his team conducted various examinations on the bank, they never recommended that the bank should be taken over.

When asked if he knew that the taking over was less than one month after the ‘exit meeting’ of his team, he answered in the affirmative, adding that, even though there was financial discrepancy in the bank, none was directly linked to Dr. Akingbola.

He also stated that some of the discrepancies in the bank were noticed in the bank’s monthly returns, but added that, the bank management disagreed with the team on Commercial Papers, which he said were short time loans for maximum of 270 days.

He claimed that, he could not remember if Dr. Akingbola signed any of the Commercial Papers.

Akali also complained about loans given to the bank’s directors to buy shares, but when questioned if Akingbola was among the directors that collected the loans or signed for it, he said no.

When asked by Akingbola’s counsel, Professor Osipitan, SAN if any of the directors who benefited from the loan and bonuses are standing trial with Akingbola, he said no.

When asked if he was aware that the directors who were beneficiaries of the alleged unsecured loans of N8 billion, were charged and arraigned before a court, he said he was not aware of it.

He was then confronted with a charge sheet, in which the directors’ names were listed as defendants. They include Alabi Christopher Adebayo; Raymond C. Obieri (Chairman of the bank); U. N. Enuha; Samuel Adegbite; Alhaji Ishaku Umoru and Elder Dr. Sunny Adams.

When also confronted with an enrolled order striking out the charge against the directors in 2014, he then confirmed that Akingbola’s name was not in the charge, and that he did not have any course to testify against the named directors in any court.

When asked if he knew any reason why the charge was withdrawn against the directors, he said no. And also confirmed that the bank, Intercontinental, was not on trial.

Akali also confirmed through Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Circular of October 2, 2008, several banks were having issues with their capital market transactions and through same circular, the banks were allowed to sort out issue up till December 31, 2009.

When asked of the number of banks that were taken over like Intercontinental, on account of share related-loans, he said ‘I don’t know of any bank that was taken over on the shares related-issue.

When asked if bank directors have rights to bonuses, he told the court that it is their right, but that going through the books, he noticed that Dr. Akingbola did not collect loan or the bonus.

When asked if he knows that he was an innocent agent being used because of the competition between First Bank, where Sanusi Lamido, was the former CEO before his appointment as CBN Governor and Intercontinental Bank were in supremacy competition, he answered that banks are usually in competition with each other.

When further questioned if he was aware that Intercontinental Bank had cause to complain that officials of First Bank were de-marketing them and that they would soon go down, the witness said he was not aware of such.

Further hearing of cross-examination of the witness, has been adjourned till Friday.