Oyo State’s former Governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala seems to have returned to full public glare, though this time not on the political field, neither as a public office holder. Rather, he returned as an accused person as he, Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola and a businessman, Femi Babalola were on Tuesday arraigned before Justice Moshood Abass at an Ibadan High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to face charges of mismaging billions of Naira belonging to Oyo State Government.
Hosea Agboola, a serving senator was the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs during Akala’s days as Governor while Femi Babalola was the consultant on most of the projects handled by the state.
Though the main business of the day was the arraignment of the former Governor and the two others on 11 counts ranging from conspiracy to defraud the state, obtaining by false pretence and acquiring property with money derived from illegal act, the legal teams did not go without showing some fireworks.
Before charges were read, the defence team led by Mamman Osuman SAN had notified the court that the prosecution team served them the charges around 3 am on Tuesday and therefore applied for a stand down to be able to respond. The judge called for the matter to be mentioned after which he stood the matter down for ten minutes.
On resumption, the charges were read to the accused persons who pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
After the charges were read, the defence team pointed out that they had already filed an application for bail. Though the Lead defence counsel did not move the bail application, he told the court that the accused persons should be granted bail on the premise that the first accused person, that is, Otunba Alao-Akala has been in the custody of the prosecution since Thursday while the constitution has given a maximum time of 48 hours for which anyone can be detained without being charged. He also presented medical certificates which gave health grounds as one of the reasons behind the bail application. He urged the court to consider the bail application so that it would not encourage unconstitutionality by his clients continued detention.
The Lead prosecutor however opined that there was nothing unconstitutional in their detention from Thursday till Tuesday. He averred that “the first accused person was taken into custody on Thursday and since the law allows a maximum of 48 hours before prosecution, we filed charges on the next working day which is Monday, we all know that no court will work on Saturday so there is nothing unconstitutional about his being held till Monday.“
The judge later ruled hearing of the bail application would commence on Wednesday, 12th October, 2011. Meanwhile, the accused persons were remanded in custody. The accused persons were put in the custody of the Department of State Security.
The judge ruled that while in custody, the lead counsel and four lawyers, doctors and one spouse each should be allowed access to the accused persons.