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N4.7BILLION FRAUD: Chief Rashidi Ladoja To Know His Fate Today

Former Oyo State Governor Chief Rashidi Ladoja, on trial for the past 12 years  for an alleged N4.7billion fraud will know his fate today.

Justice Muhammed Idris of  Federal High Court in Lagos will deliver judgment on the matter. Ladoja is facing trial along with former commissioner for finance, Waheed Akanbi.

The Nation reported that the parties have been served with hearing notices.

Lead prosecuting counsel Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) confirmed that his law firm got the judgment notice.

Justice Idris had  reserved judgment in the criminal case on 21 January after counsel representing parties adopted their final addresses before the court.

Ladoja was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with converting N4.7billion from the State’s treasury to his personal use.

He was re-arraigned along with Akanbi on an 11 count charge of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds. Both  pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that evidences in the trial closed on Nov. 17, 2018 after Ladoja had given his evidence before the court.

The court  then adjourned for adoption of final addresses.

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The prosecutor, Mr Oluwafemi Olabisi urged the court to hold that the prosecution had been able to establish its case against the accused based on evidences adduced.

He argued that the crux of the prosecution’s case centred on money received as proceeds of crime.

According to him, offences of this nature do not give room for acknowledgment of monies taken from government coffers.

He added that the court was enjoined to look at circumstantial evidences in arriving at its decision.

Olabisi urged the court to discountenance evidences adduced by defence witnesses, and hold that the prosecution had been able to establish its case against the accused.

On his part, defense counsel, Mr Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused on the grounds that the prosecution had a weak case incapable of securing any conviction.

“If there is no foundation, the super structure cannot stand,” he said.

Olumide-Fusika argued that no prosecution witness was able to link the accused with the alleged offences, adding that the prosecution was only concerned with securing conviction at all cost.

Besides, the defence counsel argued that the statement used by the prosecutor in his written address that “the second defendant in the very least, did conspire to commit the offence” was incapable of establishing his guilt.

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He urged the court to be sensitive to evidences adduced as PW2 who testified as having engaged in the sale of the Oyo State shares was never charged.

In all, he urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused as there was no shred of evidences against them, adding that the evidences by prosecution witnesses, even supports the innocence of the accused.

After listening to the submissions of counsel, Justice Idris commended them for seeing the trial to conclusion.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that after the close of prosecution’s case, the accused had opted to file a no case submission before the court, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a case against them.

But in its ruling, the court  dismissed the no case submission, and held that based on a preponderance of evidences as put forward by prosecution, there was no doubt that the accused had some explanations to make.

NAN reported that in the charge, the accused were alleged to have conspired to siphon and launder N4.7 billion from the coffers of Oyo State government.

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The EFCC also accused them of converting N1.9 billion belonging to the state for their personal use through the account of a company known as Heritage Apartments Ltd.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the accused retained the money sometime in 2007, in spite of their knowledge that it was proceeds from a criminal activity.

Ladoja was accused of removing £600,000 pounds from the state coffers in 2007, which he  sent to his daughter, Bimpe in London.

In addition, the ex-governor was accused of converting N42 million belonging to the state for his personal use and subsequently used same to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser.

The EFCC added that Ladoja converted N728 million and N77 million at different times in 2007 for his personal use and transferred same to Bistrum Investments for the purchase of a property in Ibadan.

The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 14, 16, 17 (a) and 18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, according to the EFCC.



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