Alleged N4.7bn fraud: EFCC re-arraigns Ladoja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned former Oyo State Governor, Rashidi Ladoja l. over alleged N4.7 billion fraud.
The re-arraignment followed an amendment of the charge by the EFCC.
Mr 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 charge of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.
They however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In the amended charge, the EFCC added that Mr Ladoja allegedly “compelled” a broker to sell the state’s shares.
The prosecution alleged that the former governor did not remit N1.9 billion realised from the sale of the shares.
The commission told the court that the money allegedly went to Mr Ladoja, his family and friends and was not refunded.
EFCC had closed its case before the amendment, but rather than open their defence, the accused opted to file no-case submissions.
Moving the no-case submissions on Monday, Mr Ladoja’s lawyer, Bolaji Onilenla, said EFCC did not establish a prima facie case against his client.
During the trial, a prosecution’s witness, Abubakar Madaki, an EFCC investigator, had testified that the shares, worth N6.6 billion, were sold without the state executive council’s resolution.
According to the investigator, Mr 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.
However, Mr Ladoja’s counsel had faulted Mr Madaki’s evidence, arguing that there were ”no complaints by the state that the shares were sold illegally”.
“We urge the court to hold that there was no prima-facie case against the first defendant and we urge the court to discharge and acquit him accordingly,” Mr Onilenla said.
Counsel for Mr Akanbi, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), said what the prosecution witnesses testified in their evidences were not sufficient to ask the accused to enter a defence.
“We urge the court to uphold the no-case submission of the second defendant,” he said.
But the prosecutor, Olabisi Oluwafemi, urged the court to order the accused to open their defence.
He said the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses had raised several questions for which the accused persons should be called upon to answer.
Judge Mohammed Idris adjourned until November 12 for a continuation of hearing.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have conspired to siphon and launder N4.7 billion from the coffers of Oyo State Government.
The EFCC also accused them of converting N1.9 billion belonging to the state for their personal use through the account of a company known as Heritage Apartments Ltd.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the accused retained the money sometime in 2007 in spite of the knowledge that it proceeded from a criminal activity.
Mr Ladoja was accused of removing 600,000 pounds from the state coffers in 2007 and sending this to his daughter, Bimpe, in London.
In addition, the ex-governor was accused of converting N42 million belonging to the state for his personal use and subsequently used same to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser.
The EFCC added that Mr Ladoja converted N728 million and N77 million at different times in 2007 for his personal use and transferred same to Bistrum Investments for the purchase of a property in Ibadan.
The offences contravene the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, according to the EFCC.