Judge’s absence stalls Ladoja’s N4.7bn fraud case

Senator Rashidi Ladoja

Ramon Oladimeji

The trial of a former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, for an alleged fraud of N4.7bn was stalled on Monday due to the absence of the judge presiding over the case, Justice Mohammed Idris.

The judge was said to have gone on a one-day training organised for judges of the Federal High Court by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.

Ladoja’s case was consequently adjourned till March 31, 2017, for continuation.

The ex-Oyo governor is being tried alongside Waheed Akanbi who served as Commissioner of Finance under him.

The duo were accused of conspiring among themselves to siphon N4.7bn from the coffers of the state and launder same.

In one instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, who is prosecuting them, accused them 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.

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

In another instance, Ladoja was accused 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.

The ex-governor was also accused of converting a sum of N42m belonging to the state to his own and subsequently used it to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.

He was also accused of converting a sum of N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at separate times in 2007 to his own.

The EFCC claimed that Ladoja transferred the N77, 850,000 to one Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361, Ibadan, Oyo State.

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.

The accused persons were first arraigned in 2008 before Justice A.R. Mohammed.

They had subsequently challenged the competence of the charges against them all the way to the Supreme Court over a period of seven years.

The Supreme Court, however, struck out their appeal in 2015 on the grounds that it was not competent.

It was consequent upon this that they were re-arraigned on eight counts before Justice Idris on December 14, 2016.

They pleaded not guilty to the offence and the EFCC had opened his case and has so far called two witnesses.‎

Source: punch