The Supreme Court has ordered the retrial of Erastus Akingbola, former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, in the Lagos Federal High Court over N5 billion fraud charges.
The trial was prematurely terminated in April 2012 by Justice Charles Archibong, whose decision in the case later earned him a compulsory retirement from the bench.
A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Tanko Muhammad unanimously affirmed the February 20, 2015 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lagos which had overturned the Federal High Court’s decision striking out the charges.
Justice Sidi Bage, who read the lead judgment of the apex court, said Akingbola’s appeal challenging the Court of Appeal’s verdict lacked merit.
He ordered that the case be remitted to the Federal High Court and handled by another judge in the Lagos Division and be given “expeditions trial”.
Justice Archibong (now retired) had in a judgment delivered on April 2, 2012 struck out the 26 counts contained in a charge numbered FHC/L/443C/2013 filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against Akingbola on the grounds that the prosecution was not diligent in the handling of the case.
The judge had described the EFCC prosecution team as a drain in the public purse and directed the Attorney-General of the Federation to disband the team.