Mr. Erastus Akingbola

N179bn fraud: You can’t substitute witness, Akingbola’s lawyer tells EFCC

NEWS DIGEST–The N179bn fraud trial of a former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr Erastus Akingbola, continued on Friday with the defence opposing the admissibility of certain statements of accounts from Access Bank.

The defence team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), also contended that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission could not substitute a witness in the case.

Akingbola’s 10-year-old trial reopened last month, after it had journeyed all the way to the Supreme Court and back.

He was re-arraigned on March 13, 2019 on further amended 22 counts, wherein he was accused of using N179bn belonging to the defunct Intercontinental Bank for “fictitious transactions.”

Among other allegations, the EFCC also claimed that Akingbola granted loans to a number of companies without adequate securities.

But the ex-bank chief pleaded not guilty.

At the Friday proceedings before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, the prosecution called its third witness, Uyoyou Ewhe, an Access Bank official, and sought to tender through him the statements of certain accounts opened in Access Bank.

The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told the court that he settled for Ewhe to tender the documents “because the intended witness who was to tender the documents, we were told, has left the bank and is no longer in the country.”

But the lead defence counsel, Olanipekun, opposed him, contending that the documents were only freshly sourced, contrary to the law that before a criminal case is filed in court all investigations must have been concluded.

“The prosecution was sourcing for evidence two days ago in a trial that started 10 years ago,” Olanipekun said.

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