The Oyo State government has said that it has evidence that a former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja, returned some of the money he allegedly looted from the state while serving as governor.
Mr. Ladoja, who is seeking to return as governor as candidate of the Accord Party in next month’s election, has denied returning any money to the state. In a statement by Adeolu Adeleke, the Director-General of his campaign, the former governor threatened to institute legal action against Mr. Ajimobi for libel as soon as courts reopen from the current judicial workers strike.
However, the Oyo State Government, through the Secretary to the State Government, Olalekan Alli, said, “Ladoja’s denial of his refund of Oyo State’s stolen loot is not only regrettable, but lamentable.”
“The general public will recall that in 2008, Ladoja was embroiled in an allegation of theft of proceeds from shares belonging to the state government, which he converted to personal use. He was subsequently arrested and detained by the EFCC.”
Mr. Alli added that “Ladoja returned the sum of N500 million to the EFCC which thereafter drew a cheque later collected by the state government.”
“Government thus immediately opened an account to cater for this repatriated Ladoja loot tagged “Oyo State Government repatriated fund” Account No. 5030048128 with Fidelity Bank, Jimoh Odutola Road, Ibadan.”
When contacted on the controversy, the spokesperson of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said he had no information on whether Mr. Ladoja made any refund to the state as part of any plea bargain. He said he would make further enquiries from the Lagos office of the commission and get back to PREMIUM TIMES. Subsequent calls to his phone were not answered.
In its reaction to the claim and counter claim, the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state asked Mr. Ladoja to “tender an unreserved apology to the people and hurriedly return the remaining money and all the government properties in his possession.”
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Olawale Sadare, the party claimed Oyo State Government had, few days ago, published some financial documents to back its claim that Mr. Ladoja had begun refunding the public funds he allegedly looted.
The refund, according to APC, showed the former governor “had indeed begun to honour the agreement he allegedly signed when he entered into a plea bargaining deal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the on-going corruption litigation.”
“With admittance of guilt by employing plea bargaining option over a corruption case against him, Ladoja stands unqualified to seek the people’s mandate. With his latest pranks in the mode of playing the ostrich after he had forced the state government to make public the damning evidences of his plea bargaining deal, he has a moral burden on his neck; and by seeking to denigrate our traditional institution at all times, he has failed a simple challenge of ethics.
“From legal, moral and ethical perspectives, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja has established himself as unfit to govern Oyo State again
“However, there are some options for self-redemption before the former governor if he cares to know; he can do well by tendering an unreserved apology to the people of the state over his numerous betrayal of their trust. He should endeavour to return all the public monies and properties he looted while in government. And lastly, he should withdraw from politics and attend to long abandoned issues of concern in his family and private businesses.”
While his party attacks one of his major opponents, Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Saturday, flagged off his campaign for re-election in Ibadan, the state capital.
Mr. Ajimobi said his achievements in his first term would earn him victory in the February 28 governorship election and that his successes were unmatched in the history of the state.
Addressing APC supporters and leaders led by Bola Tinubu at Mapo, venue of the rally, Mr. Ajimobi said he would meet Mr. Ladoja in court to defend the state’s claim that Mr. Ladoja returned some money.
“The people of Oyo State should be watchful and avoid voting for those who did not do anything economically meaningful for them when they had the opportunity of ruling the state,” he said.
In his address, Mr. Tinubu described his party’s candidate as “a dependable and reliable leader.”
“Ajimobi represents a group of intellectuals with vision and capacity to make people the cornerstone of economic policy,” said the former Lagos State governor.
On his part, the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, enjoined APC supporters to collect Permanent Voters’ Cards, PVCs, before elections; and monitor their votes.
“Just like Fayemi worked in Ekiti, Ajimobi has turned Oyo State around for the better; so it is better to allow him to continue for another four years,” he said.