For the second time, Chairman, Bi-Courtney Highway Services, Wale Babalakin, has lost his bid to stop his arrest and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly laundering about N4.7 billion on behalf of the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, in 2006.
The Federal High Court, Lagos dismissed Babalakin’s suit, which sought an order barring the police and the State Security Service from arresting him in connection with the charge.
It was the second suit Babalakin had filed and lost from his hospital bed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, to prevent his arraignment at the Lagos High Court in Ikeja, where he had been charged with the alleged offences.
Through his counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN), Babalakin had instituted the suit, seeking among other reliefs, an order barring the police and the State Security Service from arresting him in connection with the charge at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja without an order of the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo.
The applicant had, in the suit, alleged that EFCC had unjustly "incarcerated" him by sourrounding the hospital, where he had been on admittance, with armed policemen.
This, he according to him, had amounted to a breach of his rights to free movement and personal dignity.
Akoni while arguing the application on Friday said EFCC had failed to justify its allegation that Babalakin was plotting to flee from the country with "any shred of evidence".
An affidavit in support of the suit added that "the continued detention of the appellant in LUTH by the respondents is invariably worsening the applicant’s health condition rather than improving it as he is apprehensive of the continued abuse and/or misuse of the coercive powers of the respondents".
"The respondents have sourrounded LUTH both within the premises and outside it, with armed policemen and other officers of sister security agencies in furtherance of the incarceration," the affidavit also stated.
But EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had urged the court to dismiss the suit, saying the action of its client "is not a breach of fundamental human right".
"This is a case of non-compliance to enjoy that right," Jacobs said.
He argued that fundamental human rights are not absolute, citing Supreme Court authorities permitting the prosecuting authorities to curtail such rights for the purpose of prosecution.
Jacobs said, "It is the duty of the prosecution to bring him to court and that (the duty) cannot be taken away.
"This suit is to gag the respondents so that he will not be brought before the court to answer his charges. This is the second attempt in two weeks.
"I urge your Lordship to dismiss the suit."
He referred to the exhibits attached to the suit, accusing Babalakin of "consistent" breach of the administrative bail conditions earlier granted him in February, May and November 2012.
"We are saying at this time that the bail has been revoked," Jacobs said.
Babalakin had in his former suit, sought Justice Mohammed Idris to prohibit the EFCC from arraigning citing incompetence of the charge preferred against him by the anti-corruption agency.
But Idris, on December 14 struck it out for not complying with relevant court rules.