There seems to be no end in sight to the troubles of the Chief Executive Officer of Bi-Courtney, Wale Babalakin, as he has been charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for money laundering of about N2 billion.
Sources in the commission say the charges were filed Wednesday morning at a Lagos Court in Ikeja.
The Federal Government on Monday announced the cancellation of its contract agreement with Bi-Courtney on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The multi-billion dollar contract would have seen the company re-construct the road and then manage it for several years. The company would have made its profit by tolling and taxing users of the road, Nigeria’s busiest inter-state road. The Federal Government said the company had failed to maintain or reconstruct the road.
Also on Tuesday, the Ondo State Government announced its readiness to cancel a N4.8 billion road contract in Akure awarded to another company, Homan Engineering Limited, believed to be owned by Mr. Babalakin.
The State’s Commissioner for Works, Gboye Adegbenro, said three years after the contract was issued and adequate payment made, the company was yet to reach 30% of construction.
The two construction scandals are, however, different from the money laundering charge.
The Babalakin-Ibori money laundering
According to sources at the commission, the new charge against Mr. Babalakin is related to his involvement with James Ibori, the former Governor of Delta State, who is in jail in the UK for money laundering.
Mr. Babalakin is believed to have used one of his many companies to launder the N2 billion for the former governor.
The deal, investigators say, was hatched under the guise of building a stadium in Asaba, Delta State during Ibori’s tenure as governor (1999-2007). Most of the materials to be used for the construction were allegedly subcontracted to a company owned by Mr. Ibori.
Money for the stadium, N2 billion, was released, but stadium was never built, investigators said.
“Babalakin just helped Ibori siphon the money from the state,” an EFCC investigator said.
Officials of the London Metropolitan Police, who are still working with the EFCC on Ibori’s complex web of corruption, visited Nigeria about three times over this new case involving Mr. Babalakin.
Wale Bablakin’s integrity
This new charge by the EFCC questions the integrity of Mr. Babalakin, a man whose companies have been involved in one controversial deal or the other. The charge is a culmination of the commission’s months of investigating Mr. Babalakin’s link with Mr. Ibori. The businessman was arrested in February and detained for one night by the commission during its investigations.
Born four months before Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, the businessman is currently the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State. As Pro-Chancellor, he is the chairman of the Governing Council of the institution. The PhD holder from the University of Cambridge was called to the Nigerian bar in 1982 One of his companies, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd, is currently managing the MMA2 Lagos Airport terminal as part of a public private partnership with the Federal Government.
The spokesperson to Mr. Babalakin’s Bi-Courtney, Dipo Kehinde, in a telephone interview said he is yet to be briefed on the court case.
“I’m not aware of anything as such but I’ll be going in for a meeting with my boss and a statement will be issued as regards to that,” Mr. Kehinde said.