Theft Charge: Court Sets May 2 To Rule On Erastus Akingbola’s Application
The former bank chief wants the court to dismiss the charges against him and he is therefore challenging the jurisdiction of the state high court to hear the 47.1 billion Naira theft charge levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Dr Akingbola is charged alongside his associate, Bayo Dada for allegedly stealing the money which belonged to Intercontinental Bank.
Mr Dada also has a similar application before the court which also seeks to quash the charges against him.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, Counsel to Dr Akingbola, Mr Wole Olanipekun, SAN while moving the application argued that the subject matter of the alleged offences relates to banking operations and operations of capital market which falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
He premised his argument on the judgment of the Lagos Court of Appeal which struck out a theft charge preferred against a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu, and some others.
The Court of Appeal had held in Mr Nwosu’s case that the Lagos High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charge because it emanated from capital market transactions. The court also held that a case associated with the capital market should be handled by the Federal High Court.
Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla, SAN opposed the application of the defendants challenging the courts jurisdiction. He contended that though Section 251 subsection 1(a-s) vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Federal High court in specified cases, criminal matters on those cases were not exclusively vested in the Federal High Court.
He also contended that the precedent which the court of appeal relied on in the judgment of Okey Nwosu had been overturned by the Supreme Court. He therefore urged the State High Court to dismiss the applications of the defendants and hold that it had jurisdiction on the charges of theft preferred against both men.
The arguments went on for over 3hours with Prof Taiwo Osipitan also making a case for the 2nd defendant.
After the arguments, Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned till May 2 his ruling on the consolidated applications as argued by the parties.
If the applications succeed, the case against Mr Akingbola and his co-defendant will collapse but if the application fails, the court will assume jurisdiction and proceed to hear the case against both men.