Friday , 19 April 2024

EFCC re-arraigns Ladoja for diverting public funds

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned former Oyo State Governor Rashidi Ladoja for allegedly diverting the state’s funds.

The re-arraignment followed an amendment to the charge by the commission.

Ladoja was charged with converting N4.7 billion from the state treasury to his personal use.

He was re-arraigned along with his former Commissioner for Finance Waheed Akanbi on 11 counts of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.

In the amended charge, EFCC added that Ladoja allegedly “compelled” a broker to sell the state’s shares.

EFCC alleged that the former governor allegedly did not remit N 1.9 billion realized from the sale of the shares.

The commission told the court that the money allegedly went to Ladoja, his family and friends and was not refunded.

EFCC had closed its case before the amendment, but rather than open their defence, the defendants opted to file no-case submissions.

Moving the no-case submissions on Monday, Ladoja’s lawyer Mr Bolaji Onilenla said EFCC did not make out a prima facie case against his client.

An EFCC investigator, Abubakar Madaki, had testified that the shares, worth N6.6billion, were sold without the state executive council’s resolution.

According to the investigator, Ladoja engaged Fountain Securities as a portfolio manager to sell the shares at a discounted rate, adding that the shares were acquired by McLace Securities.

But, Onilenla faulted Madaki’s evidence, arguing that the evidence he gave should have been given by the banks concerned.

He said documents tendered by the prosecution through Madaki ought to have been certified and tendered by the banks and were therefore invalid.

The lawyer said there were no complaints by the state that the shares were sold illegally.

“We urge the court to hold that there is no prima-facie case against the first defendant and we court to discharge and acquit him accordingly,” Onilenla said.

Counsel for Akanbi, Mr Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), said what the prosecution witnesses said in their evidences were not sufficient to ask the defendants to enter a defence.

“We urge the court to uphold the no-case submission of the second defendant,” the SAN said.

But, prosecuting counsel Olabisi Oluwafemi urged the court to order the defendants to open their defence.

He said the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses raises several questions for which the defendants should be called upon to answer.

EFCC accused the defendants of converting N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo to their personal use through the Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited, despite knowing that it was proceed of crime.

The prosecution said Ladoja removed £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja in London.

Ladoja also allegedly bought an armoured Land Cruiser jeep with N42 million for himself using public funds.

EFCC said he converted N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at different times in 2007, and allegedly transferred N77, 850,000 to Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361 in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

The alleged offence, EFCC said, contravenes sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, punishable under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2).

Ladoja and Akanbi pleaded not guilty.

Ladoja was governor from May 29, 2003 to January 12, 2006 when he was impeached. On November 1, 2006, the Appeal Court Ibadan, declared the impeachment null and illegal.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision on November 11, 2009, and Ladajo resumed office on December 12, 2006. He, however, lost a re-election bid.Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned until November 12 for hearing.

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