After a week of indecision, Bi-Courtney Chairman Dr. Olawale Babalakin (SAN) has agreed to face trial over the N3.4billion allegedly laundered for ex-Governor James Ibori to buy a Challenger aircraft.
Also to face trial are Stabilini Vision Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited, Alex Okoh and Renix Nigeria Limited.
It was learnt that a team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria will defend the suspects, whose trial is likely to take place in the court complex built by Babalakin’s company.
They are to face a 27-count charge in the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja Division.
The charge borders on the alleged laundering of $11.3million abroad for Ibori through Erin Aviation Account in Mauritius.
The charge sheet, dated November 21, was filed by A.M. Yusuf, Esq., on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
A top source in EFCC, who spoke with our correspondent in confidence, said: “We have received assurances from Babalakin that he will appear in court for arraignment on Thursday (today). He offered to come for arraignment; we have no reason to doubt him.
“We may, therefore, have no reason to arrest him before trial. What is important is to serve the cause of justice.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “There is an understanding that all the suspects will be at the EFCC office in Ikoyi by 7am and it is from there that they will be taken to court.
“Babalakin has been cooperating with the EFCC in its investigation; there is no problem at all.”
Another source, who also did not want to be named, said Babalakin relocated from Abuja to Lagos on Wednesday evening for his trial.
“He is innocent of the charges but it is normal to arraign any suspect in court. This investigation has been on in the last seven years without anything found against Babalakin.
“The arraignment might be an attempt to break his spirit but justice will prevail at the end of the day.
“It is going to be a major legal battle and we have assembled a crack team of lawyers to defend him and four others.
“Ironically, Babalakin will be arraigned in the same court complex which his company built to taste. That is life, everything has a purpose.”
All the suspects will be arraigned in court for alleged “conspiracy to commit felony to wit: corruptly conferring benefit on account of public action, contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP. C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003.”
They are also to respond to the allegation of “corruptly conferring benefit on account of public action, contrary to Section 98A (1) (a) of the Criminal Code Law, CAP. C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003”.
The third peg of their trial borders on alleged “retention of proceed of a criminal conduct contrary to Section 17(a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004”.