Mr. Paul Akali, a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the former Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, yesterday, told a Federal High Court, Lagos, that his team did not recommend the taking over of the bank.
Akali, an official of Nigerian Deposits Insurance Corporation (NDIC) stated this while being cross examined by Dr. Akigbola’s counsel Professor Taiwo Oshipitan (SAN).
The former Intercontinental Bank Plc boss, is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on the allegation of granting “unsecured credit facilities” worth billions of naira to different companies.
According to EFCC, the alleged offence violates Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering Act of 2004.
Akali, who was the first prosecution witness to testified in the matter, while being led by the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had told the court roles played by his team, which led to the removal of Dr. Akingbola as the Bank’s managing director and chief executive officer, as well as taking over of the bank by Access Bank Plc.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the EFCC witness said even though they conducted various examination on the bank, his team never recommended that the bank should be taking over.
When asked if he knew that the taking over was less than one month after the ‘exit meeting’, he answered in the affirmative, adding that even though there were financial discrepancies in the bank, none was directly linked to Dr. Akingbola.
He also stated that some of the discrepancies in the bank were noticed in the bank’s monthly returns, but added that the bank management disagreed with the team on Commercial Papers, which he said were for short time loans for maximum of 270 days. But claimed that he could not remember if any of the Commercial Papers were signed by Dr. Akingbola.
Akali also complained of loans given to the bank’s directors to buy shares, but when questioned if Akingbola was among the directors that collected the loans or signed for it, he said no.
When asked by Akingbola’s counsel, Professor Oshinpitan (SAN) if any of the directors who benefited from the loan and bonuses are standing trial with Akingbola, he said no.
When asked if he was aware that the directors who were beneficiaries of unsecured loans of N8 billion, was charged and arraigned before a court, he said he was not aware of it. He was then confronted with a charge sheet in which the directors’ names were listed as defendants; Alabi Christopher Adebayo; Raymond C. Obieri (Chairman of the bank); U. N. Enuha; Samuel Adegbite; Alhaji Ishaku Umoru and Elder Dr. Sunny Adams.
When also confronted with an enrolled order striking out the charge against the directors in 2014, he then confirmed that Akingbola’s name was not in the charge and that he did not have any course to testify against the named directors in any court.
When asked if he knew any reason why the charge was withdrawn against the directors, he said no. And also confirmed that the bank, Intercontinental, was not on trial.
Akali also confirmed through Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) circular of October 2, 2008, several banks were having issues with their capital marker transaction and through same circular the banks were allowed to seek out issues up to December 31, 2009.
When asked of numbers of banks that were taken over like Intercontinental, on account of shares related-loans, he said ‘I don’t know any of any bank that was taken over on the shares related-issues.
When asked if banks’ directors have rights to bonuses, he told the court that its their right but that must go through the books, he noticed that Dr. Akingbola did not collect loan or the bonus.
When asked if he knows that the special report submitted by his team was seen as particular objectives, he responded that examiners do their jobs based on facts available to them. Adding that whatever decisions taken by CBN and NDIC they were not privy to.
When asked if he knows that he was an innocent agent being used because of the competition between First Bank, where Sanusi Lamido, was the former CEO before his appointment as CBN governor and Intercontinental Bank, he answered that banks are usually in competition with one another.
When further questioned if he was aware that Intercontinental Bank had cause to complain that officials of First Bank are de-marketing them and that they will soon go down, the witness said he was not aware of such.
Further hearing of cross examination of the witness has been adjourned till Friday.