Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court on Monday ordered N. O. Fagbemi, counsel to the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, to harmonise the two applications seeking to quash the charges against his client.
Babalakin was arraigned by the EFCC alongside Alex Okoh and three companies: Stabilini Vision Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Renix Nigeria Limited, on January 17, 2013, on a 27-count criminal charge that borders on conspiracy to commit felony, corruptly conferring benefit on account of public action and retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct to the tune of N4.7 billion.
The charge reads in part: “That you, Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin, Stabilini Visioni Limited and Bi-Courtney Limited between May 2006 and December 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Honourable court did corruptly confer benefit on former Governor James Onanefe Ibori to wit: the sum of N1,356,600,000.00 (One Billion, Three Hundred and Fifty Six Million, Six Hundred Thousand Naira) on account of contracts awarded by Delta State Government to Stabilini Visioni Limited by transferring the sum through various third parties to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of Challenger Jet Aircraft by the said James Onanefe Ibori.”
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Fagbemi prayed the court to grant the first defendant the indulgence of not sitting in the dock based on his status and as a member of the bar.
He quoted a section of the law to back his prayer.
However, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, opposed the request, citing authorities.
Justice Onigbanjo declined the request and asked that the defendant should be in the dock.
Fagbemi then told the court that he has filed three different applications seeking to quash the charges against his client.
But Jacobs argued that it amounts to an abuse of court process if two applications were made seeking to quash the charge and therefore prayed the court that one be withdrawn.
Justice Onigbanjo said two separate applications to quash the charge will not be granted and asked that the applications be combined.
He said the court could entertain an oral application to that effect so that the trial can proceed.
Fagbemi however prayed the court for a date to allow him time to do a tidy job as oral application would be seen to be untidy.
Rotimi said seeking an adjournment to combine the application is a way of delaying the process.
Having considered both arguments, Justice Onigbanjo adjourned proceedings to March 27, 2013 to allow for time to file the application.