A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has been told how Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and others took billions of naira in loans that were written off by Lai Alabi, Erasmus Akingbola’s successor as Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc.
This revelation was made on Thursday during the cross-examination of Jimoh Abdulraheem, the prosecution witness to the Economic and Financial Crime Commision (EFCC), by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the defence lead counsel at the resumed trial of Akingbola over alleged N179bn fraud.
Akingbola was re-arraigned last month at the Federal High court following a further amnendment to the initial charges the EFCC filed against him before the Lagos State High Court in 2009 when the case first started.
In the amended charge, the EFCC alleged that Akingbola, while serving as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Bank Plc, used N179,385,000,000 belonging to the bank for “fictitious transactions”.
According to the EFCC’s amended charge, 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 N179billion “to buy International Bank Plc’s shares thereby inflating the market price of Intercontinental Bank Plc’s shares on the Nigerian Stock exchange”.
Speaking during his cross-examination by Olanipekun, Jimoh admitted that a company, Dicetrade Nigeria Limited, linked to the Senate President was indebted to the defunct Intercontinental Bank 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 Limited, in the sum of N14.5 billion , 14.27 billion and N10.97 billion respectively.
The late Olusola Saraki, Bukola Saraki’s father’s, Skyview Properties was also indebted to the bank to the tune of N2.88billion, according to the submission made by the EFCC witness who doubles as the Chief Investigator of the Intercontinental Bank Plc.
In the course of cross-examination, Olanipekun, the lead defence counsel, asked the Chief Investigator if he was aware that Lai Alabi, who took over from Akingbola, deliberately wrote off all indebtness because most of the people involved were close to him, but the witness 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 Manging Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, the witness said he was not aware.