Akingbola Returns, May Report to EFCC Today


By Emele Onu, 08.04.2010 


Former Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, made a surprise return to the country yesterday and is said to be ready to challenge allegations levelled against him by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Akingbola, who has been in the United Kingdom since the CBN removed him and other bank CEOs last year, arrived Abuja in the morning. He was received by close family members as well as his lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN).


“Akingbola’s voluntary return to the country is to defend himself of all allegations against him in the law courts. His return shows that he is not afraid to face trial in proper courts of law. He is presently consulting with his legal team and the outcome of these consultations would determine his next steps,” a family source said last night, hinting that Akingbola may report to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today.  Akingbola “emphatically denies all allegations of wrong-doing or improper conduct”, the source added, disclosing that the former CEO has challenged the legal validity of his removal from office as Group Chief Executive of the Intercontinental Bank Plc by way of Judicial Review.


On August 14, last year, the CBN governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had sacked the senior management teams of five banks – Afribank, Finbank, Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank and Union Bank – and injected N420 billion, saying lax governance had left them dangerously undercapitalised.  Akingbola has challenged the legal validity of his removal, maintaining that he was the target of the CBN action. Akingbola and Sanusi had reportedly had some disagreements over de-marketing when Sanusi was the CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.  The former Intercontinental Bank boss had alleged that First Bank was de-marketing Intercontinental Bank and even placed an advertorial to that effect in some newspapers but did not mention First Bank or the name of its CEO. 


The advert referred to “one of the old generation banks whose CEO had an ambition to become the Governor of the CBN”.  De-marketing is a term used to describe competitors trying to pull down one another.  Akingbola left the country shortly before his removal and EFCC filed charges against him and other directors of the bank. The directors were arraigned by the EFCC on a total of 131-count charge bordering on fraud, concealment and granting loans without adequate collateral running into about N700 billion.


They were alleged to have  committed offences contrary to and punishable under Sections Section 20(b) (7), 28 (1,2, and 3), 24 and 50 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) Cap B3, Laws of the Federation, 2004; Section 422 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 Laws of the Federation, 2004. In a statement earlier this year, Akingbola’s counsel, Mr. Charles Nwajagu, had indicated that Akingbola was ready to come back to Nigeria as soon as the suit in London would have been given mention in court, saying that the suit required his personal attention. 


The case, mentioned in London court on July 14, 2010, was adjourned till December, 2010. According to the counsel, all the transactions conducted under Akingbola’s stewardship were legitimate and lawful and that he never wrongly took or misappropriated any funds whatsoever. He said if there were any allegations against Akingbola, they should be left up to an impartial and fair court to decide, stressing that by resorting to trial in the court of public opinion through the media, his accusers are turning themselves into the complainant, the prosecutor and the judge.


“He would like to reassure Nigerians that he is and has always been prepared to come home, once he is sure of his personal safety and that of his family, and confident that no steps will be taken to attempt to implicate him in other crimes as a way of forcing him to withdraw his case in court against the CBN.  “His whereabouts are known to the United Kingdom authorities. He is not now or ever been in hiding,” said the counsel.






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