Former Oyo Governor, Ladoja re-arraigned over N4.7B fraud

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A former Governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, was on Wednesday re-arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos over N4.7 billion alleged fraud. Ladoja was docked before Justice Mohammed Idris, alongside his ex-aide, Waheed Akanbi, on charges which include money laundering and unlawful conversion of money belonging to Oyo State to their own.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which preferred an eight counts charge against the accused alleged that they committed the offence in 2007.

Ladoja and Akanbi were earlier arraigned before Justice A.R. Mohammed in 2008 and they had challenged the charges against them up to the Supreme Court which turned down their appeal.

The re-arraignment of the duo on Wednesday followed the dismissal of their appeal which dragged over a period of seven years.

In one of the counts charge, the anti-graft agency accused the former Governor of removing a sum of £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London.

In another count, Ladoja and Akanbi, were accused of converting a sum of N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo State to their personal own, using a Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited.

According to the EFCC they retained the money in 2007, despite their knowledge that it was proceeds of a criminal conduct.

The EFCC told the court that Ladoja and Akanbi acted contrary to sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and were liable to be punished under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2) of the same Act.

But the two accused, however, pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them and the EFCC lawyer, Oluwafemi Olabisi consequently asked the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial.

In their own remark, counsels to the defendants, Mr. Bolaji Onilenla and Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, informed the court of their clients’ bail applications.

Onilenla, who is representing the first defendant (Ladoja), urged the court to allow his client to continue to enjoyed the bail granted him in 2008.

Olumide-Fusika, representing the second defendant ( Akani) also spoke in the same vein but the EFCC, in separate counter-affidavits argued against the bail applications of the defendants.

The anti-graft commission’s counsel, Olabisi argued that they had, by their conducts, frustrated the trial for almost a decade by challenging the competence of the charges all the way to the Supreme Court.

He said even if the judge was willing to grant them bail, it should be on fresh conditions because the case was starting afresh.

Justice Idris in a bench ruling held that the court could not deny the defendants bail on account of their exercising their constitutional right of appeal, which resulted in the delay of the case.

He also held that there was no evidence that Ladoja and Akanbi breached the terms of the bail conditions given them by Justice Mohammed eight years ago and consequently granted the request of the defendant’s lawyers that they should be enjoying the earlier bail granted them.

The matter was adjourned till February 14, 15 and 16, 2017 for commencement of trial.

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