Babalakin employs 100 private guards in LUTH to counter EFCC arrest
IN an apparent reaction to the presence of the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the ward where Dr Wale Babalakin SAN, accused of N3.4 billion money laundering scam, is hospitalised, the management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has fortified his security with about 100 private security guards.
Babalakin is expected to take his plea next Thursday before Justice Adeniji Onigbanjo for allegedly assisting former Delta State governor, James Ibori to launder the said amount, with the anti-corruption commission slamming a 27-count criminal charge on him.
Operatives of the commission have been laying siege to his ward at the hospital since Tuesday and matters got to a head on Wednesday night, when the operatives allegedly clashed with staffers of the hospital in the course of trying to take charge of Babalakin’s ward.
When the Nigerian Tribune visited the hospital on Thursday, stern looking uniformed private security guards, numbering about 100, were seen manning strategic locations around Babalakin’s ward.
Babalakin is staying at the private wing which also houses the E2 and E3 sections.
At the entrance to the building were two mobile police officers who frisked visitors and turned back those who could not convince them of their mission.
The operatives of the commission, however, were still keeping their vigil at the inner side of the ward, though they no longer had direct access to where Babalakin was, with the private guards serving as sentries at the main entrance to the exclusive ward.
The security being provided by the private security was so tight that a few people were only allowed into the ward area.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Tribune sighted two specialists coming out of the room where Babalakin was kept at the exclusive ward, said to be the costliest in the hospital.
Dr Ajekigbe, a radiologist was first seen coming out of his room, before a respiratory/thoracic expert followed suit.
Babalakin took ill when he was charged to court by the EFCC and got a controversial order halting his arraignment.
Both the order and the adjournment for arraignment would simultaneously take place next week Thursday.
While a Federal High Court in Ikoyi would follow up on the restraining order, a Lagos High Court will continue with the issue of arraignment.
Meanwhile, Twenty-four hours after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) started its siege on a private ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where the Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited, Mr Wale Babalakin, is said to be hospitalised, some lawyers in the state, on Thursday, criticised the action, condemning it as an abuse
Babalakin’s company had alleged, on Wednesday, that EFCC operatives, numbering over 20, had stormed the hospital where he is being treated for an undisclosed illness and detained him in the ward.
According to Dr. Joseph Nwobike, the action of the EFCC is an abuse of power and a violation of the businessman’s right to life and medical care.
“I understand that the EFCC granted Dr. Babalakin administrative bail which has not been vacated by the commission. I am also aware that the EFCC is aware that Dr Babalakin is ill and he is undergoing treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
“So it amounts to a breach of his fundamental human right for the commission to disturb his treatment by laying siege on the hospital, thereby worsening his condition.
“The court has adjourned his arraignment to December 12, so the EFCC ought to wait and see if he would not come to court. If at that stage his reason for not appearing in court is not reasonable, the EFCC can then take action under the authorisation of the court to compel him to come for his trial. This is an abuse of power on the part of the EFCC and should be condemned by all.
Another lawyer, Emmanuel Majebi, stated that: “As much as I don’t believe that there is anyone above the law, I also don’t support or encourage tyranny. If Wale Babalakin is in hospital, the EFCC should wait until he recovers to arrest and prosecute him. What is the desperation all about?
“After all, they have waited six years to file this charge. Once this is allowed to go unchallenged, it becomes a bad precedence which would empower security agencies to go and arrest suspect on their sick bed.
“Without creating a scene EFCC can keep an eye on him. LUTH is a public institution they can liaise with the Chief Medical Director via official channels such that he can be monitored. What I don’t like, is for the EFCC to barge into the ward and arrest him on his sick bed.
Also commenting, human right activist, Jiti Ogunye said that thought the EFCC may have a good reason for their action given past experience where suspect has feign illness to evade arrest and prosecution, he however caution the commission to act within the confine of the rule of law.
“Dr. Wale Babalakin was to be arraigned in court last week but before this could be done he went before the Federal High Court in Lagos to file an action seeking a judicial review of the administered and executive powers of the Attorney General of the Federation and to prohibit the AGF, EFCC and the police from arresting him and he was granted leave by the court.
“As this was taking placed, his lawyers told the trial court that he has been hospitalized. While I don’t support security official barging into hospital to disrupt treatment and recovery of citizen, I won’t support anybody hiding behind a false illness to evade the law. However if his lawyer feel his right to life and medical care has been violated they can file an action to enforced his rights.
Meanwhile, The invasion of Dr Wale Babalakin’s ward by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for arrest over alleged money laundering, for the former Delta State Governor James Ibori has continued to generate negative reactions from Nigerians.
Latest of such critics was the Rights’ Monitoring Group (RMG) which, yesterday, condemned the EFCC’s action and described it as gross violation of the human rights of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), under a democratic setting.
Describing the action of EFCC as a new trend in judicial administration in Nigeria, the National Coordinator of RMG, Olufemi Akinbule said the action reflected desperation by the EFCC to violate the provisions of the law and constitution in order to circumvent justice.
According to Aduwo, the action was a violation of the basic human rights of the citizen noting that it was a replica of the military junta of late General Sani Abacha.
“It is noteworthy that this brings back sad memories of the days of General Sani Abacha, when the rights of Nigerians were trampled upon with ease.”
While maintaining that RMG was against corruption, having been working with EFCC since the time of Nuhu Ribadu and Larmorde, Aduwo however said his group will never support any violation of any citizen’s right.