The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin has challenged the legality of the criminal charge filed against him and four others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before an Ikeja High Court.
He also filed an application asking the court to dispense with, his physical presence in court pending the hearing and determination of his application challenging the charges.
Mr Babalakin is facing trial alongside one Alex Okoh, a banker and three companies, Stabilini Vision Ltd, Bi-Courtney Ltd and Renix Nigeria Ltd for fraudulently transferring 4.7 billion Naira on behalf of the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
The EFCC alleged that Babalakin and his co-defendants fraudulently assisted Ibori to transfer huge sums of money through various parties to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius for the purchase of a Challenger Jet aircraft.
The defendants, who were however billed for a fresh arraignment before a new trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, resisted the arraignment on the basis of their pending applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
The former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, has been moved to the Commercial Division of the High Court.
Mr Babalakin also refused to go into the dock, while his counsel, Mr. Wale Akoni, argued that he could not be docked until the determination of his pending application challenging the charge and the jurisdiction of the court.
The trial judge, Justice Lawal-Akapo, ruled in favour of Mr Babalakin and subsequently extended the same ruling to the co-defendants after an application by their counsel.
The court directed the Police and the EFCC not to re-arrest Mr Babalakin because the bail earlier granted to him by the former trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, was still in force.
The judge also ordered the EFCC to release Mr Okoh’s international passport to enable him embark on two business trips between December 2013 and January 2014. He is to return the international passport to the EFCC not later than January 30, 2014.
Further hearing in the case has been fixed for the January 20, 2014 for the hearing of all pending applications.