The discharge of former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday 3rd April 2012, has been received with mixed reactions. Mr Akingbola was standing trial on a 26-count amended charge of financial impropriety and alleged stealing of N36.4 billion preferred against him by the Federal Government and his case was dismissed foro lack of diligent prosecution.
However, his discharge isn’t the only thing making so much buzz but the barring of the prosecution team made up of five Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs. The court barred the prosecution from appearing before the court or another judge of the Federal High on the matter, over what it called “serious and professional incompetence”.
Vanguard News reports that “The court also ordered the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohamemd Adoke, SAN, to disband the team of the five SANs prosecuting the case for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Justice Archibong said he would forward the court’s ruling to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, LPPC, to sanction the senior lawyers.”
Trial judge, Justice Charles Archibong described the prosecution team as “a drain to the public purse”. Archibong said the prosecution team or any part of it shall not be given further audience in this court in relation to the charges against the accused either before the presiding judge or any other judge of the Federal High Court.
He added that the prosecution team has been dismissive of Akingbola’s right to a “speedy trial which in reality should be the credible procedure.”
“I, therefore, dismiss the charges amended or otherwise for this incompetent and abusive prosecuting team,” he said.
For many of Mr. Akingbola’s loyalists, the ruling comes as a relief to them. However, the conclusion of the case is still not satisfactory to many. The incompetence of the lawyers, though evident, does not translate to justice as some people still believe that Mr. Akingbola was a tad guilty of some of the charges and should be made to face the law. On the other hand, if he was innocent, then the shame and humiliation Mr. Akingbola and his family were put through for a long period of time was totally unnecessary.
What do you think about the conclusion of the case? Was justice delivered? What do you think about the action of the prosecution team of five SANs? Have the EFCC and CBN been witch-hunting innocent persons? Is this another case of a guilty person going free?
News Source: Vanguard News