EFCC storms Babalakin’s hospital ward, Bi-Courtney kicks

Bi-Courtney Limited has faulted the siege laid to the hospital ward of the firm’s Chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, Lagos.

The firm, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Dipo Kehinde, on Wednesday said the EFCC had laid siege to the LUTH ward, where Babalakin had been admitted for an undisclosed ailment, despite a court order barring the anti-graft agency from arresting the embattled businessman.

The EFCC, however, said on Wednesday that the businessman was under “surveillance” to verify Babalakin’s claim that he was sick, and could not appear in court last Thursday during his arraignment.

It was learnt that no fewer than 20 plain-clothed but heavily armed operatives of the EFCC stormed LUTH on Tuesday night to ensure that the businessman did not leave the hospital or travel out of the country.

Our correspondents learnt that the operatives were, however, not allowed access to the ward where Babalakin was undergoing medical treatment.

A source in the hospital said, “The EFFC operatives, initially, resisted the hospital’s security staff and attempted to force their way into Babalakin’s ward, leading to a face-off that lasted till about 1am this morning.”

Kehinde, however, described the move by the commission as harassment.

Kehinde said, “This is a new trend in judicial administration in Nigeria and it reflects the desperation by the EFCC to violate provisions of the law and constitution in order to circumvent justice, and a violation of the basic human rights of the citizen.

“It is noteworthy that this brings back sad memories of the days of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, when the rights of Nigerians were trampled upon with ease.”

Spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, told one of the correspondents that the “surveillance” was in line with a court verdict, which instructed the commission to verify the claim that Babalakin was hospitalised and also to make sure that he was in court at the next adjourned date.

He said, “We have placed him under surveillance in order to carry out an instruction from the court. EFCC is to verify his hospitalisation and also make sure that he is present in court at the next adjourned date. Nobody is disturbing his treatment.”

A source in the EFCC said, “The ruling of the court was that the EFCC should verify whether he was actually hospitalised or not. Hospital is for the sick, so nobody will want to cause any panic.”

Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Akin Osibogun, however, denied the presence of security operatives around the ward where Babalakin was on admission or around the hospital.

Osibogun said,“I have not seen any security operatives around my patients ward and if they are in plain clothes I would also not know; but we work with law enforcement agents from time to time.

“I have not received any detaining order for him. So, nobody so far has interfered with the management of our patient.”