N4.7 billion laundering: Defence concludes cross-examination of another witness in Ladoja’s trial

Rashidi Ladoja

The Defence on Wednesday continued its cross-examination of witnesses before a Federal High Court, Lagos, in the ongoing trial of a former governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja, charged with N4.7 million money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Ladoja alongside a former Oyo State Commissioner for Finance, Waheed Akanbi.

The duo was arraigned on December 14, 2016 before Justice Mohammed Idris on eight counts bordering on of N4.7 billion money laundering.

Both pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails.

When the trial resumed on Wednesday, the third prosecution witness, Gregory Otsu, a stockbroker, who had since been led in evidence and was still under oath, was cross-examined by counsel to the second defendant, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika.

Mr. Olumide-Fusika asked the witness: “How much did you pay for the shares from Oyo State Government?”

The witness: “The first cheque was for N1.1billion but I cannot remember the total amount.

Counsel: “The instruction you received to make payment to Heritage Apartments, was it before or after the sale of the shares?”

The witness: “After the sale of the shares, we received an instruction from Fountain Securities that they had paid our statutory fees to Heritage Apartments on our behalf and we refunded same to them.”

On how payment was received, the witness told the court that “some were received by Fountain Securities and others by us.”

The counsel then asked for leave of court to show the witness an exhibit which is a statement of account entry of Heritage Apartments dated April. 4, 2007 for the sum of N180 million.

He then asked the witness if as at the time of payment, he had bought the shares. The witness answered in the affirmative.

The counsel further demanded: “As at April. 10, and April. 11, 2007 before you made the N1.1billion payment, the contract notes show that the 43 million units of shares you claimed to have paid for, had been sold on the Nigerian Stock Exchange floor (NSE)”

“I wouldn’t know”, the witness replied.

Counsel: “Do you recall in your EFCC statement that you confirmed that as at April. 10, 2007, Fountain Securities had started selling the UBA shares? ”

Witness: “I cannot remember.”

When Mr. Olumide-Fusika asked the witness if he refunded any money to the EFCC, the witness confirmed that he refunded money to the commission which they said was for the discount of the shares Oyo State Government sold to them.

After cross -examination, the witness was discharged and Justice Idris adjourned until February 15 for continuation of trial.

The duo is alleged to have conspired to siphon and launder N4.7 billion from the coffers of Oyo State.

The EFCC also accused them of converting a sum of N1.9 billion belonging to the state to personal use, using the account of a company, Heritage Apartments Ltd.

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

Mr. Ladoja was accused of removing a sum of 600,000 pounds from the state coffers in 2007, and sent same to Bimpe Ladoja, his daughter, who was in London at the time.

The ex-governor was also accused of converting a sum of N42 million belonging to the state to his use, and subsequently used same to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.

In addition, he allegedly converted N728 million and another N77 million at different times in 2007 to his use.

The EFCC claimed that Ladoja transferred the sum to one Bistrum Investments which he nominated to help him purchase a property in Ibadan.

The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 14, 16, 17 (a) and 18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.


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