A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Adewale Atanda, Thursday told the Federal High Court, Lagos, that former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, bought 22 vehicles for the state’s lawmakers in 2005, to avoid being impeached.
Atanda, a lawyer, said 14 of the vehicles were distributed among Ladoja’s loyalists in the Oyo House of Assembly, while the remaining eight were shared among his family members.
Atanda said the 14 lawmakers were those whose loyalty Ladoja was sure of, out of the 22 he required to stop his impeachment.
The House of Assembly, he noted, had 32 lawmakers and for Ladoja to have stopped his impeachment he needed the votes of 22, which was why he bought 22 cars.
Atanda testified as the second prosecution witness before Justice Mohamed Idris in the trial of Ladoja and Mr Wahab Akanbi, a former Commissioner of Finance.The accused persons were re-arraigned last December on an eight-count charge bordering on the laundering of N4.7b contrary to Section 17(a) and punishable under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
Led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Oluwafemi Olabisi, Atanda, who claimed to have met Ladoja in the year 2000 when he (Atanda) was vying for a senatorial seat on the platform of the same political party that Ladoja was then running for Oyo State Governor, stated how Ladoja’s administration encountered political difficulty after he become a governor.
Atanda said: “Well, I don’t know exactly how it started but it appeared as if there was a rift between members of the Oyo State House of Assembly on one hand, some political actors in the state, like the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and Senator Ladoja, and some other external influences from Abuja at the material time. Very many attempts were made to remove Senator Ladoja from office; various petitions were written and at the end of the day an impeachment process was set in motion.
“Oyo State has about 32 members of the House of Assembly and to successfully impeach the governor, it would require two-thirds majority support of the members of the House of Assembly. That will be about 22 members.
“In order to secure the loyalty of these 22 members of the House certain promises were made by different political actors. One of such was that loyal members would be given vehicles.
“In the course of all these, I had discussion with Senator Ladoja and explained to him that it was important that that this promises be kept. At the material time, it was rather impossible to buy these vehicles because they were not included in the budget for the year, so, we started looking for alternative ways to accommodate the request.”
He said he eventually obtained a loan of N80m from Wema Bank with his personal assets to assist Ladoja, who was his political associate.
“The vehicles were bought and collected from the various dealers by the drivers of the Oyo State Government and delivered to the Government House in Ibadan. In spite of this, I think, by December 2005, the governor was impeached from office.”
After the impeachment, Atanda said Ladoja and his allies, including the 14 lawmakers loyal to him fled and regrouped in Lagos, where Ladoja continued to take responsibility for the welfare of the lawmakers, who demanded to be paid a monthly income of N1m each after their salaries and allowances had been stopped.
Ladoja, he added, also assembled a team of lawyers, who increased their fees from N50 million to N370 million, before they agreed to challenge the impeachment up to the Supreme Court.
Justice Idris adjourned till March 27, 2017 for Atanda to continue his testimony.