Alleged N4.7bn Fraud: Ladoja’s Trial Ends After 10 Years

Alleged N4.7bn Fraud: Ladoja’s Trial Ends After 10 Years

 

The trial of a former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, on charges of fraud has finally ended after 10 years.

Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, are 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 on Tuesday 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.

EFCC Accuses Ex-Governor Ladoja Of Diverting N1.9bn

Court, Rashidi Ladoja,
File photo of former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja.

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused former Oyo State governor, Rashidi Ladoja of diverting the sum of N1.9billion for the use of his family members and allies.

According to the anti-graft agency, Ladoja in 2007 unilaterally gave instructions for the sale of the state’s shares worth N6.6 billion without executive resolution.

EFCC said N1.9 billion out of the proceeds of the shares was not remitted to the state coffers but rather ended up partly in the pocket of Ladoja, his family members, allies and some stockbrokers.

An investigator with the EFCC, Abubakar Madaki, stated this at the resumed trial of the former governor on Thursday for an alleged fraud of N4.7 billion.

The former governor is standing trial on an eight count charge before the Federal High Court in Lagos alongside one Waheed Akanbi, who served as the Oyo State Commissioner for Finance under him.

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Led in evidence by Olufemi Olabisi the prosecutor, Madaki tendered before the court the letter allegedly written by Ladoja to unilaterally approve the sale of the shares.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, admitted the letter as an exhibit in evidence against Ladoja.

According to the investigator, one Fountain Securities was the portfolio manager engaged by Ladoja to sell the shares at a discounted rate.

One McLace Securities, he said, was one of the stock brokerage firms which acquired shares from Fountain Securities.

“In the course of our investigation, about N500 million was recovered from McLace Security, Fountain Securities and other stockbrokers, while the balance could not be recovered because some of those who purchased the shares were not even stockbrokers as highlighted by the report of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“Part of the proceeds was used to offset the four cars given to the first defendant (Ladoja), which he confirmed.

“I can name the cars for clarity. There is a jeep; there is a bus and two cars out of the cars supplied to members of the House of Assembly loyal to the first defendant when he was governor.

“All these were paid for with the proceeds of the shares. The first defendant confirmed this in his statement; he promised to make a refund then but as at today, he has not done so,” Madaki explained.

Further proceedings were adjourned till May 30 and 31, 2018.

In the charges, Ladoja and Akanbi were accused of converting a sum of N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo State to their personal use.

The EFCC claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007, despite their knowledge that it was proceeds of a criminal conduct.

In another instance, Ladoja was accused of removing a sum of £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London.

The former governor was also accused of converting a sum of N42 million belonging to the state to his own and subsequently used it to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.

He was also accused of converting a sum of N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at separate times in 2007 to his own.

The EFCC claimed that Ladoja transferred the N77, 850,000 to one Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The EFCC told the court that Ladoja and Akanbi acted contrary to sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and were liable to be punished under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2) of the same Act.

But the defendants have pleaded not guilty to all these allegations.

Alleged N4.7bn Fraud: EFCC Witness Testifies Against Ladoja

Alleged N4.7bn Fraud: EFCC Witness Testifies Against Ladoja
File photo

 

A witness, Abubakar Madaki, has told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos that a former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, admitted to benefitting from the proceeds generated from the sale of the state shares in 2007.

Madaki, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), made the disclosure on Friday while testifying in the ongoing trial of Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, over an alleged N4.7 billion fraud.

The duo were re-arraigned by the EFCC on December 14, 2016, before the court on eight counts of money laundering, contrary to Section 17(a) and punishable under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

While answering questions in court on Friday, Madaki said during investigations into the matter, the former governor admitted that he benefited from the proceeds generated from the sale of the shares.

“The first accused person (Ladoja) admitted that himself, his wife and daughter benefitted from the proceeds generated from the sale of the shares. $13,000 was transferred to his wife outside the country. He also received a jeep purchased by one of his aides, Chief Adewale Atanda. He, however, claimed that he has some money with Chief Atanda,” the investigator said.

He added that an enquiry was launched into the sale of the shares following a petition which was received from the Oyo State government in 2008, alleging that the accused persons diverted the proceeds generated from the sale.

The witness further said investigations revealed that the shares were sold at a discounted price as against what was agreed to at the State Executive Council meeting, where the decision to sell the shares was taken.

He pointed out that a shortfall of N1.8 billion from the proceeds generated from the sale of the shares was not remitted to the Oyo State government.

Madaki noted that further enquiries were made with the portfolio manager of the state government, Fountain Securities, and another stockbroking firm – Mcclace Securities, to unravel the reason behind the shortfall.

“We conducted a scientific research on the houses and premises of the portfolio manager and Mcclace Securities and we recovered a paper from Mcclace Securities, showing the distribution of funds to Oyo State; Heritage Apartments owned by Chief Atanda benefitted from the proceeds of shares.

“He later brought a list containing names of lawyers, family members of the first accused person, his political aides, associates, children and wives that benefited from what went to Heritage Apartments”, the witness stressed.

He added that part of the funds was moved to Oyo State and Heritage Apartments for the benefit of the first accused person.

The EFCC investigator further disclosed that statements were made by Ladoja and his co-accused under oath and caution.

However, attempts by the EFCC counsel to tender the statements as exhibits were opposed by the defence lawyers.

They argued that the tendering of the documents would only be relevant at the point when the defendants were called upon to open their defence.

Responding, the prosecution’s lawyer contended that the statements were retrieved by the witness in the course of investigating the matter.

He then urged the court to overrule the defence objections to the admissibility of the documents.

Ruling on the contentious issue has been fixed for May 9.

Alleged N4.7bn Fraud: Former Oyo State Director Testifies Against Ladoja

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has called a former Director in the Oyo State Civil Service, Mr Yinka Fatoki, to testify in a case of alleged fraud to the tune of N4.7bn involving a former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja.

This comes after the EFCC’s former witness had failed to appear in court on Monday.

Ladoja is being prosecuted alongside a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Waheed Akanbi.

The new witness, told the court on Tuesday that he was the Executive Secretary of the Bureau of Investment and Public Private Partnership in Oyo State and in 2007 when the alleged offences were committed, he was an acting Director of Investment Promotion in the State’s Ministry of Commerce.

According to him, as part of his job, he was in charge of the state government investment holdings of public quoted securities.

The witness testified that in March 2007, the state Government decided to sell some of its shareholdings in about seven banks and Fountain Securities Ltd was appointed portfolio manager.

He further testified that Fountain Securities proceeded to sell and remit funds from the sale of the shares in tranches.

After the sale, Fountain Securities informed the government that only four of the seven bank shares were sold and they were sold at a discount with proceeds totalling N4.4bn and N118m being the outstanding sum.

The witness said the government which succeeded Gov. Ladoja found the report of this state of accounts curious and subsequently commissioned an investigation. A stockbroker, GTI Capital Ltd was commissioned to review the Fountain Report and at the end, it submitted a report to the State Government.

After reviewing this report, the government forwarded a petition to the EFCC. The witness also mentioned that the government felt he was withholding information and so he was also named as one of the suspects in the petition.
Under cross-examination, the witness testified that the GTI report indicated that the sale of shares were done illegally.

He also said that Fountain Securities was collecting a contractual Commission on the quantum of dividends and on the state govt portfolio and was always appreciating functionaries of govt through his ministry, sometimes by as much as 40 percent of the sum realized.

Despite evidence presented to him, the witness denied collecting or benefiting from any kickback in Cheques or cash but could not remember if his principal, the Commissioner of Commerce at the time did.

The prosecution then told the court that it intends to call the Oyo State’s Former Commissioner of Commerce, Princess Christiana Babalola as it’s next witness.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case until April 12 and 13 for continuation of trial.

EFCC To Re-Arraign Former Oyo Governor Ladoja On Dec 14

EFCC To Re-Arraign Former Oyo Governor Ladoja On Dec 14A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed December 14, for the re-arraignment of a former Governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi over an alleged 4.7 billion Naira fraud.

Justice Mohammed Idris fixed the date after ruling on an application by the EFCC seeking the issuance of a bench warrant on the two defendants for not making themselves available to answer to the charges against them.

Justice Idris turned down the application for the arrest of the defendants owing to the appearance of both men in court on Friday.

The court, however, refused the request of the defendants for a stay of proceedings in the matter pending the outcome of an appeal lodged at the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court which ordered their trial.

The Appeal Court had held that the anti-graft agency has powers to prosecute them under the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2004.

Justice Idris therefore held that the request for a stay of proceedings was against the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.

In 2008, the EFCC had arraigned both men on a 10-count charge of laundering the 4.7 billion naira.

In the charge, the EFCC alleged that the duo conspired to convert properties and resources derived from an illegal act, with the intention of concealing their illicit origin.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that ex-Governor Ladoja used 42 million naira out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser SUV, and remitted about £600,000 to one, Bimpe Ladoja in London.

They had at the time challenged the charges and the powers of the EFCC to prosecute them but six years after, the Court of Appeal has paved the way for their re-arraignment.

Supreme Court Dismisses Appeals Filed Against Delta, Yobe, Oyo Governors

Ifeanyi-Okowa-Abiola-AjimobiThe Supreme Court in Nigeria has dismissed appeals filed against the election of the Governors of Delta, Yobe and Oyo States.

In a unanimous judgment, the seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Walter Onnoghen dismissed the appeals filed by Mr Great Ogboru of the Labour Party and Emerhor Ortega of the All Progressives Congress, challenging the election of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

It also dismissed the appeal by Mr Rashidi Ladoja of the Accord Party and that of Mr Maina Waziri of the Peoples Democratic Party, who both challenged the elections of Governors Abiola Ajumobi of Oyo State and Ibrahim Gaidem of Yobe State.

The apex court justices said the appeals lacked merit, but deferred reasons for their decisions to February 15 2016.

The journey to the Supreme Court began at the various Tribunals where all three appeals were dismissed for lack of merit.

It proceeded to the appellate court which also agreed with the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Delta, Oyo and Yobe States respectively.

The defendants then brought their cases to the apex court which was a final court of decision and in what has become the usual in recent times, the parties in the suites adopted their briefs as their arguments.

After the hearing, the seven-man panel of justices led by Justice Onnoghene retired for 45 minutes to write their judgments and came back with decisions on the different appeals.

In less than 15 minutes, the panel delivered a unanimous judgment, dismissing all three appeals for lack of merit and abuse of court process.

Appeal Court Upholds Oyo State Governor Ajimobi’s Election

abiola ajimobiThe Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, has dismissed an appeal instituted by former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja, challenging the election of Governor Abiola Ajimobi in the last governorship election.

While giving its ruling, the five man panel, which was made up of the chairman, Justice Ogunjimiju, Haruna Tsammani, Uchechukwu Oyemenam, Olubunmi Oyewole and M.C. Shuaibu, upheld the earlier ruling of the Election Petition Tribunal, which was delivered by its chairman, Justice Aliu Mayaki on October 27.

‘A Biased Player’

The Tribunal had earlier thrown out Ladoja’s petition on the ground that principal witness, Bimbo Adepeju, who inspected election materials, was not qualified to do so and held that his evidence was not reliable.

The Chairman of the Appeal Court Panel, Justice Ogunjimiju, said the Tribunal was right in its submission, reaffirming that Adepoju was indeed not qualified to play the role that was assigned to him.

The Court said “apart from the earlier stated factors, Mr Adepoju was also ‘a biased player’, being a member of Accord Party which had Ladoja as its candidate in the election.

Reacting to the ruling Governor Ajimobi expressed gratitude to the people of the state and extended an Olive branch to his opponent to join him in developing the state instead of wasting time and resources at the courts.

A former Governor, Adebayo Alao Akala, also joined Governor Ajimobi publicly for the first time before journalists, congratulating him over his victory at the courts.

The duo, who had been at opposing camps till lately, had been making moves for reconciliation which has now been proven beyond doubts.

Both Governor Ajimobi and former Governor Alao-Akala disclosed their readiness to work together as one in the interest of the state.

At the Oluyole residence of the Oyo State Governor, members of the All Progressives Congress [his party] visited the Governor to congratulate him on the victory at the Appeal Court.

Meanwhile, the Accord Party lead counsel, Aderemi Olatubora, hinted of another fight at the Supreme Court, saying there were similarities in the case with that of Rivers State.

No official statement has been released by Senator Ladoja or the Accord Party regarding the judgment.

Court Upholds Ajimobi’s Election, Strikes Out Ladoja’s Appeal

AjimobiThe Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, has emerged victorious once again.

The five-man panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, on Wednesday, unanimously struck out the petition filed by the Oyo State governorship candidate of the Accord, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, against the election of the Governor.

The former governor had approached the court to challenge the ruling of the governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Ibadan after the tribunal on August 18 struck out an application filed by Ladoja seeking the leave of the court to call in a forensic analyst to tender the report made on the inspection of ballot papers and ballot boxes.

Ladoja then filed a petition challenging the declaration of Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of the APC as the winner of the April 11 governorship election in Oyo State.

In the Court Of Appeal ruling, the Justice Saulawa led panel dismissed the entire case and upheld the ruling of the tribunal.

Ajimobi, Ladoja Differ On Election Conduct In Oyo

OyoThe governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Abiola Ajimobi, and Accord, Rashidi Ladoja, have disagreed over the conduct of the elections in Oyo State.

While Governor Ajimobi has described the exercise as well organised and commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security operatives and the people for the feat, Senator Ladoja told journalists after getting accredited that the exercise had not been hitch-free as he had received reports of inadequate ballot papers and failed card readers in some areas.

It was gathered that there were acute ballot paper shortages in Ogbomosho South Ward 5 where there are 700 registered voters but only 360 ballot papers were provided.

The situation was not different in Odo Oba ward 4 and 8, Oke Alapata and Oke Ola.

In Ibadan South West ward 9 unit 1, accreditation was said to have suffered a set back for some hours as the card reader also malfunctioned there.

However, in most local governments areas visited by Channels Television in Oyo State, the elections were peaceful, with security presence less seen than was the case during the presidential election.

Oyo REC Releases NASS Election Results, Reacts To Protests

oyoThe Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Oyo State, Ambassador Rufus Akeju, has officially released the results of the National Assembly elections in the state, cautioning political parties who may feel aggrieved.

The REC told Journalists during a Press Conference at the headquarters of INEC in Ibadan that those protesting the results of the elections should seek redress at the Election Petition Tribunal, instead of disturbing public peace.

Mr Akeju added that several measures have been put in place to avoid malpractices during and after voting, condemning the generalised rejection of the result saying, it is a disservice to the electoral system and insult to the voters who made the sacrifice.

Members of the Accord and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had earlier marched to the Oyo State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as a way of registering their displeasure, chanting songs amidst very tight security.

The Governorship candidate and leader of Accord, Rashidi Ladoja and his PDP counterpart, Teslim Folarin, at separate interviews, condemned the results in its entirety, claiming that the elections were fraught with irregularities

The results of the National Assembly election indicates that all the 3 senatorial seats in Oyo State were won by the APC, 12 of the 14 House of Reps seats also won by APC, while the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won a seat each.

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Oyo APC Reacts To Election Results, Opposition Protests

APcThe All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State has advised followers of the Governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Accord Party and the Labour Party, Senator Teslim Folarin, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala to jump out of what it called their “sinking ship” ahead of the April 11 governorship election.

The APC, in a statement issued in Ibadan on Monday by its State Director of Publicity and Strategy, Olawale Sadare, said that the dismal outing of the PDP, Accord and Labour Party candidates had clearly shown them as paperweight politicians.

The APC thanked Oyo residents for keeping faith with the party, as demonstrated by the overwhelming victory of the party during the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on Saturday, March 28.

The party also counseled the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Seyi Makinde, to join the winning team in order not to mortgage his political future.

The statement further said that the voting pattern of the last elections had clearly shown their belief and support for the APC led administration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, as well as their political sophistication.

APC said that the showing of Akala-led Labour Party in some parts of Ogbomoso out of the five zones of the state was a further attestation to the party’s position that the Ex-governor was only a local champion that lacks general appeal in the political matrix of the state.

According to the party, the palpable and remarkable achievements of Governor Ajimobi in the last four years in social and physical infrastructure, welfare, environmental sanitation and urban renewal, are enough to vote him in for a second term.

Some of the political parties in Oyo State protested the results declared by the electoral body for Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

The governorship candidate and leader of Accord, Rashidi Ladoja and his PDP counterpart, Teslim Folarin, at separate interviews alleged malpractice, calling for the cancellation of the polls.

As a way of registering their displeasure, members of the Accord and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) marched to the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, chanting songs amidst very tight security.

Accord Violence: Culprits Will Be Brought To Justice – Oyo CP

AccordThe Oyo State Police Commissioner, Mohammed Katsina, has stated unequivocally that the sponsors of the attack on Accord party members on Sunday March 1, in Ibadan would be brought to justice no matter how highly placed.

Mohammed made the declaration while reading a riot act to politicians during a meeting with representatives of major political parties at the State Police Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

The Police said 8 people had been declared wanted while about 10 arrests had been made in connection to the brutal killing of at least 4 people.

The State Commissioner of Police told the parties’ representatives during the emergency meeting that investigations still continue and warned all parties to appeal to their members to shun violence or face the wrath of the law.

He vowed to bring the case to a logical conclusion not minding whose ox is gored.

The leader and the governorship flag bearer of Accord, Rashidi Ladoja, who had to cut short his trip to commiserate with his party members on their loss, had asked the Police to ensure that the murderers are caught and prosecuted.

He paid a visit to the man whose faith still hangs in the balance, as some bullet fragments would stay permanently in his head.

He also visited the relatives of the deceased at Elekuro, where he consoled them and promised to get justice by exposing the culprits.

Reacting to allegations that APC members were responsible for the attacks, the APC Chairman in Oyo State, Mr Akin Oke, denied any involvement of his party, claiming it was an internal wrangling within the Accord that led to the chaos.

He also called on the Police to expedite investigations and bring culprits to book.