After weeks of intrigues between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the embattled Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, the agency finally arrested him yesterday in Lagos, ending attempts by Babalakin to evade prosecution.
According to the EFCC’s spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, Babalakin was arrested by EFCC men at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He was accosted by the operatives a few minutes after he was discharged by the hospital and was immediately whisked away to the Ikoyi office of the commission.
“I can authoritatively confirm to you that we have arrested Wale Babalakin. He was arrested immediately after his discharge from LUTH”, he said. However, Babalakin, hours later, fulfilled the stringent administrative bail conditions of the anti-graft agency. Asked if stringent measures had been taken by the EFCC to prevent the embattled businessman from leaving the country before the next date of his arraignment in January, the commission’s spokesman revealed that the administrative bail conditions had done that. “The administrative bail conditions set by the commission have taken care of that.
The case of Babalakin running away from the country to avoid prosecution by the EFCC might not arise,” With his arrest, the coast is now clear for the EFCC to finally arraign the Bi-Courtney boss in a Federal High Court, Lagos on January 17, 2013. Recall that the EFCC had filed a 27-count charge against Babalakin over alleged money laundering on behalf of former governor of Delta State James Ibori in 2006. Ibori was convicted this year by a British court.
Babalakin also lost his bid last week Friday to prevent the EFCC from prosecuting him after several court injunctions, when a Federal High Court headed by Justice Ibrahim Buba told him to answer to the corruption charges.
Babalakin and the EFCC had been engaged in the cat and mouse game when his planned arraignment was stalled on account of ill –health which forced him to seek cure at LUTH. On two occasions, he had sought unsuccessful judicial support to stop his prosecution. He first approached the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris and later Justice Ibrahim Buba seeking to enforce his fundamental human rights against the commission.
Last Friday, Justice Buba in what appears like a final seal on Babalakin’s fate ruled that the Federal High Court is not the proper place to plead his ill-health and that the Lagos High Court where the charge is preffered against him should be. The judge urged him not to be afraid to appear before the Lagos High Court. He dismissed the application.