September 14, 2009

I’m not on the run – Akingbola

Deposed managing director of International Bank Plc, Dr Erastus Akingbola has said he was not on the run.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had declared Akingbola wanted over its investigation into the affairs of Intercontinental Bank and four other banks whose Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) were sacked along with Akingbola by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on August 14, 2009.

However, Akingbola who is also the President of Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), has debunked the insinuation and speculation in the media that he had gone underground to evade arrest as he was in United Kingdom.

Speaking through his media assistant, Suleimon Adefajo in a statement, dated September 13, 2009, Akingbola breaking his silence for the first time since his dramatic removal from office, categorically stated that he was neither evading arrest nor ‘on the run’ as being claimed.
According to the statement, the detention of the ex-bank chiefs being was a deliberate move to silence and prevent them from presenting their side of the story.

The statement reads in part:
“He is not guilty of any wrongdoing but appears targeted for persecution and for character desmirchment. He is currently in the UK.
Our client believes that the prime objective of detaining all those arrested is to prevent them from presenting their side of the story.
“All persons should be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a court of law. As soon as it was alleged that he was evading arrest, Dr Akingbola notified the UK authorities of his whereabouts and provided full contact details through his legal representatives.”

The statement noted that Akingbola had already challenged his removal from office by seeking judicial review of the (CBN/NDIC) ad-hoc committee report that reportedly recommended his sack, while absolving himself of any wrongdoings to warrant his removal.
While calling on all parties to respect the ongoing judicial process in the matter, the statement warned against making prejudicial statement capable of undermining the court process.

Four ex-bank chiefs currently in detention whose bail application will be decided today by Justice Daniel Abutu, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court includes, Sebastian Adigwe of Afribank Plc, Okey Nwosu of Finbank Plc, Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank Plc and Dr (Mrs) Cecilia Ibru of Oceanic Bank Plc.
They, along with some directors including non-executive directors of Intercontinental Bank are facing prosecution for sundry offences in which over N400 billion was said to have been lost by the banks.
Akingbola, following his removal filed a suit before Lagos Federal High Court challenging his alleged illegal removal from office.

In the suit filed by his counsel, Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN), he joined both the Governor of CBN, Lamido Sanusi and the CBN as co-respondents.
Specifically, he prayed the court for an order of certiorari to remove into the court and quash the order of CBN governor of August 14, 2009 made on behalf of the apex bank which terminated his career as the CEO of the bank.

Following the permission sought and obtained from the court to serve the both Sanusi and CBN through substituted means, process in the matter were advertised in six national dailies as ordered by the court.
Among other reliefs, Akingbola in the substantive suit is praying the court to declare that no ‘special examination’ was conducted into the affairs of Intercontinental Bank by the ad-hoc committee of CBN/NDIC as statutorily required under the Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOIF) Act Cap. B3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004) during the management headed by the applicant.

He also prayed the court to make an order nullifying and quashing the appointment of Joseph Ajewole and Lai Alabi as the Deputy Managing Director and Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank respectively and order his reinstatement in office.
The suit which was commenced by the retired Chief Judge of the Court, Justice Mustapha Abdullahi will be taken over today for adjudication by Justice Ibrahim Auta.

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