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N4.7bn Fraud: EFCC to Re-arraign Ex Oyo Governor Rashid Ladoja

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N4.7bn Fraud

There are speculations that Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo State, will be tried afresh for an alleged N4.7bn fraud.

This was disclosed by the external prosecutor for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Oluwafemi Olabisi on Thursday.

After about 11 years of legal battle with the EFCC, Ladoja was discharged and acquitted of the N4.7bn fraud charges last year in February.

Justice Mohammed Idris dismissed the entire 11 counts filed against Ladoja and a former Commissioner for Finance in Oyo State, Waheed Akanbi, holding that the case of the EFCC lacked merit.

But in a chat with our correspondent on Thursday, Olabisi said Ladoja and Akanbi would most likely be tried afresh in view of the recent Supreme Court’s decision in the N7.1bn fraud case of a former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited; and a former Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House, Jones Udeogu.

The Supreme Court had in a May 8, 2020 judgment nullified the trial and conviction of Kalu, Slok and Udeogu on the grounds that Justice Idris, who convicted them lacked jurisdiction.

The apex court upheld the contention by Udeogu that Justice Idris concluded the trial and gave judgment after he had been elevated to the Court of Appeal and ceased to be a judge of the Federal High Court.

It was the same Justice Idris who handled and delivered judgment in Ladoja and Akanbi’s case.

Olabisi said the Supreme Court decision nullifying Justice Idris’ decision in Kalu’s case had affected Ladoja’s case.

Responding to enquiries by our correspondent on Ladoja’s case, Olabisi said, “You know we filed a notice of appeal before now. Whether we like it or not, we still need to bring an application before the Court of Appeal, clearly asking them that in view of Kalu’s case whether our appeal has not become academic. It will be by way of motion and once that appeal is taken care of, most likely, Ladoja will be re-arraigned.

“However, we still need to get a fresh briefing from our client, which is the EFCC.”

It was earlier reported that Ladoja’s trial on charges of fraud has finally ended after 10 years.

Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, who were being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on eight counts of laundering N4.7 billion and for unlawful conversion of funds belonging to the Oyo State government.

When the matter came up at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, the former governor testified in his own defence to bring an end to the protracted trial which started in 2008.

In his testimony, Ladoja again denied authorising the sale of Oyo State government shares at a price lower than its original value.

He also denied personally benefitting from the proceeds of the sale.

The former governor strenuously distanced himself from the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Mr Adewale Atanda, who served as his Senior Special Executive Assistant.

Atanda had told the court that the former governor nominated him to collect various sums of money from some stockbrokers and their companies as part of their contribution to the expenses of the former governor while he was trying to reclaim his seat after his impeachment in 2006.

After his testimony, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, thanked all the parties in the case for cooperating with the court to conclude the case.

The judge who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal told the lawyers in the case that the fiat given to him by the Chief Justice of Nigeria to come back from the Appeal Court to the High Court to hear the matter would elapse on Friday.

He was optimistic that the fiat may be extended to enable him to take the final addresses and subsequently deliver judgment in the matter, failing which the matter would have to start afresh before another judge.

The matter was then adjourned till January 21, 2019, for the adoption of final written addresses in the matter.

He was however rearraigned by the anti-graft commission for an alleged N4.7bn Fraud.

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