The trial of former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank Plc. after a merger in 2011), Erastus Akingbola which was meant to commence today before Hon. Justice Olatoregun of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court was adjourned on the application of Mr. Akingbola’s lawyers that they had to go through some processes recently served on them by the prosecution to properly cross-examine the witnesses.
Mr. Akingbola had been arraigned sometime in 2010 on a 22-count charge relating to fraud, granting reckless credit facility, abuse of office and mismanagement of depositors’ funds. The charge had travelled the judicial ladder up to the Supreme Court after now retired Justice of the Federal High Court, Justice Archibong struck out the charge sometime in April 2012. In a judgment delivered on the 18th of May 2018, the Apex Court remitted the charge back to the Federal High Court for trial. The charge is now before Hon. Justice Olatoregun.
At today’s proceedings, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs SAN who is the prosecuting counsel informed the court that he had two witnesses and he was ready to proceed to trial. Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, who led Mr. Akingbola’s defence team also consisting of Prof. Taiwo Osipitan and Mr. Mike Igbokwe SAN who were also present in court, stated that he did not mind proceeding with the testimony of the 1st witness but that he would be asking for another date for cross-examination as there was a bundle of documents of over 100 pages just served on him on the 11th of January 2019. He stated that the documents were just brought to his attention yesterday and the other Senior Advocates in the matter were just seeing it for the first time today.
Mr. Jacobs maintained that there was no need for an adjournment. He argued that the fresh bundle of documents served contained documents that had long been part of the records. Justice Olatoregun stated that she did not consider it tidy to conduct trials in piecemeal and she would therefore adjourn and set four dates for trial. The charge was adjourned to the 11th to 14th of March 2019.
Earlier in the proceedings, on the application of Mr. Jacobs, the costs of N500,000 made against the prosecution on the 14th of November 2018 for their failure to commence trial was reduced to N50,000.