By Lukman Olabiyi
the trial of former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, alongside one Waheed Akanbi, over alleged fraud of N4.7 billion, slated for commencement before the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday suffered a set back.
Ladoja and Akanbi were re-arraigned before Justice Muhamed Idris by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the offence allegedly committed in 2007 The charge, marked FHC/L/336c/08, was filed against them in 2008 and they were first arraigned before Justice A. R. Mohammed eight years ago.
Their re-arraignment before Justice Idris followed the dismissal of their appeal against the charge which went to the Supreme Court over a period of seven years.
The eight counts charge filed against them by the EFCC bordered on money laundering and unlawful conversion of funds belonging to the Oyo State Government to their own. In one of the counts, Ladoja and Akanbi were accused of converting N1,932,940,032.48, belonging to Oyo government to their personal own, using a Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited.
The EFCC claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007, despite their knowledge that it was a proceed of a criminal conduct. At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, EFCC was represented by O. O. N. Olabisi, Bolaji Oniilenla and Olumide Fusical represented the first and second accused respectively.
The trial could not proceed as expected because EFCC was not ready as the commission is yet to front-load the list of witnesses to be used during the trial.
Counsel to the accused persons made this known to the court and the prosecutor pleaded for a short adjournment to put its house in order.
However, the court has fixed March 1 for commencement of trial.