Crime Reports News

Court Frees Ladoja Over N4.7b Fraud Case

The Oyo State Former Governor Rashidi Ladoja was on Friday acquitted by Justice Mohammed Idris over alleged N4.7billion fraud.

Delivering judgment in the trial, the judge faulted the prosecution’s case, saying it was full of contradictions and was badly prosecuted.

According to him, EFCC’s case lacked credible evidence and that the prosecution’s case was full of contradictions.

Justice Idris held that the prosecution failed to prove a single ingredient in the 11-count charge.

“The court found the defendants not guilty,” the judge held in 11 counts.

He began reading the judgment by announcing that it was up to 250 pages, but that he would skip some aspects.

“I examined 914 tendered documents forensically,” he said.

“If I have to read the entire judgment, we’ll leave here by 6pm. So I’ll skip some.”

The 11-year-old case was filed in 2008.

Justice Idris is the third judge to handle the case after Justices I. M. Sanni and A. R. Mohammed.

Twelve witnesses were called in the course of the trial, six each by the prosecution and defence.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Ladoja last November following an amendment to the charge.

The case went up to the Supreme Court due to interlocutory appeals filed by Ladoja.

Ladoja was re-arraigned along with his former Commissioner for Finance Waheed Akanbi on 11 counts of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.

In the amended charge, EFCC added that Ladoja allegedly “compelled” a broker to sell the state’s shares.

EFCC alleged that the former governor allegedly did not remit N1.9billion realised from the sale of the shares.

The prosecution and the defence adopted their final written addresses and made closing arguments on January 21.

Justice Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal, concluded the trial through a fiat.

EFCC accused the defendants of converting N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo to their personal use through the Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited, despite knowing that it was proceed of crime.

The prosecution said Ladoja removed £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja in London.

Ladoja also allegedly bought an armoured Land Cruiser jeep with N42million for himself using public funds.

EFCC said he converted N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at different times in 2007, and allegedly transferred N77, 850,000 to Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361 in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

The anti-graft agency said the alleged offence contravenes sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, punishable under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2).

Ladoja and Akanbi pleaded not guilty.

Ladoja was governor from May 29, 2003 to January 12, 2006 when he was impeached. On November 1, 2006, the Appeal Court Ibadan, declared the impeachment null and illegal.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision on November 11, 2009, and Ladajo resumed office on December 12, 2006. But he lost a re-election bid.

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