The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned the embattled Chairman of Bi-Courtney, Wale Babalakin along with 4 others before a Lagos High court in connection with criminal conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N4.7 billion on behalf of the convicted former Delta State governor, James Ibori.
The EFCC had on Wednesday issued a statement that “the businessman, who was supposed to report to the commission today (Wednesday) preparatory to his arraignment on a 27-count criminal charge before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court tomorrow, January 17, 2013 failed to do so, and has gone underground.”
Based on the non-appearance of the businessman the EFCC’s office, the agency had declared Mr Babalakin wanted.
However, the Bi-Courtney boss had faulted the action of the EFCC saying “I have been in regular touch with the EFCC and have reported to the commission every other day.”
When the charges were read to him, Mr Babalakin pleaded not guilty to all 27 of them.
After his Arraignment, his lawyer moved an application that he be admitted on bail on grounds of self-recognisance. The Counsel to the EFCC did not oppose the application but asked that the court to give Mr Babalakin such conditions that will ensure that he continues to show up for trial
Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo thereafter admitted the Bi-Courtney boss to bail on self-recognizance. The only condition attached is that he must deposit his passport with the EFCC who must not release it without express permission of the court.
Mr Babalakin was charged before Justice Onigbanjo on a 27-count of conspiracy, retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct and corruptly conferring benefit on account of a public action.
The offences, according to the EFCC are contrary to Section 17(a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004.
Efforts to arraign the defendants were stalled on November 29 and December 12 last year after Mr Babalakin’s counsel told the court that he had been admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos.
Mr Babalakin was arraigned alongside Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Renix Nigeria Limited for fraudulently transferring N4.7 billion on behalf of Mr Ibori.