By Talatu Bala
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, has been told how billions of Naira loans taken by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and others from the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, were written off by Dr. Erastus Akingbola’s successor, Lai Alabi.
The EFCC’s prosecution witness, Jimoh Abdulraheem, while being cross-examined by the defence lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun at the resumed trial of Akingbola over alleged N179 billion fraud made the revelation.
Akingbola was re-arraigned last month at the Federal High Court following a further amendment to the charges, which the EFCC filed against him before the Lagos State High Court since 2009.
EFCC, in the amended charge, alleged that while Akingbola was the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Bank Plc, he used N179,385,000,000 belonging to the bank for “fictitious transactions.”
It said Akingbola violated Section 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and was liable to be punished under Section 16(1)(a) of the same Act.
The anti-graft agency claimed that Akingbola used the N179 billion “to buy Intercontinental Bank Plc’s shares, thereby inflating the market price of Intercontinental Bank Plc’s shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”
At today’s proceedings, while being cross-examined by Olanipekun, the witness, Jimoh admitted that a company linked to the Senate President, Dicetrade Nigeria Limited, was indebted to Intercontinental Bank Plc, in the sum of N1, 892, 313, 792.
Other companies said to be indebted to the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc are, Joy Petroleum in the sum of N3. 932 billion; Linker, 617,693,988.99 and United Alliance Company of Nigeria Limited, in the sum of N14.5 billion, N14.27 billion and N10.97 billion respectively.
The EFCC’s witness who was the Chief Investigator of Intercontinental bank Plc, also admitted that another company linked to the Senate President’s father, Late Olusola Saraki, Skyview Properties, was indebted to the bank to the tune of N2.88 billion.
The witness, when asked by Olanipekun (SAN) if he was aware that Lai Alabi who took over from Akingbola, in order to write off all the indebtedness because people involved were closed to him, said he was only aware that Alabi granted waiver for some non-performing loans.
When probed further if the loans were collateralized and that if he was aware that Alabi was the former Managing Director of Saraki’s Songai Farms before being appointed as the Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, The witness said he was not aware.
The witness, when asked if the loan taken by Akingbola’s Tropic Securities and Tropic Properties, were queried by anyone in the bank before his investigation into the bank, said the loans were only queried after he submitted his report to Alabi.
The presiding Judge, Mojisola Olatoregun adjourned till tomorrow for continuation of trial.