Alleged N4.7 billion fraud: Absence of witness stalls Ladoja’s trial

Rasheed Ladoja
Rasheed Ladoja

The absence of a prosecution witness on Monday stalled the ongoing trial of a former Governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja, over alleged N4.7 billion money laundering charge at a Federal High Court, Lagos.

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

The duo were arraigned on December 14, 2016 before the judge, Mohammed Idris, on an eight-count charge bordering on N4.7 billion money laundering.

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

However, at the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the EFCC Prosecutor, Oluwafemi Olabisi, apologised that he could not proceed because of the absence of his witness, a director in the service of Oyo State Government.

Mr. Olabisi told the court that the witness was attending a meeting with the World Bank in Lagos but had pleaded to be in court on Tuesday.

He urged the court to adjourn the case until March 20 and March 21 as the dates were already set down for the continuation of the trial.

Bolaji Onilenla and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, counsel to the first and second defendants, did not object to the request for an adjournment, but urged the prosecuting counsel to ensure that his witnesses were in court on the agreed dates.

Mr. Idris adjourned the case until March 20 and March 21 for continuation of trial.

The defendants are alleged to have conspired, siphoned and laundered N4.7 billion from the coffers of Oyo State.

The EFCC is also accusing the defendants of converting N1.9 billion belonging to the state to personal use, using the account of a company — Heritage Apartments Ltd — to commit the crime.

It claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007 in spite of their knowledge that it was a proceed from a criminal activity.

Mr. Ladoja was accused of removing 600,000 pounds from the state coffers in 2007 which he allegedly sent to Bimpe Ladoja, his daughter, who was in London at the time.

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

Mr. Ladoja also allegedly converted N728 million and another N77 million at different times in 2007 to his personal use and transferred the money to Bistrum Investments to purchase a property in Ibadan on his behalf.

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

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