The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday reserved judgment in the 12-year-old trial of former Oyo State Governor Chief Rashidi Ladoja for alleged N4.7billion fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Ladoja last November 5 following an amendment to the charge.
The commission first charged him with converting the money from the state treasury to his personal use in 2007.
The case went up to the Supreme Court due to interlocutory appeals filed by Ladoja.
Ladoja was re-arraigned along with his former Commissioner for Finance Waheed Akanbi on 11 counts of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.
In the amended charge, EFCC added that Ladoja allegedly “compelled” a broker to sell the state’s shares.
EFCC alleged that the former governor allegedly did not remit N1.9billion realised from the sale of the shares.
Yesterday, the prosecution and the defence adopted their final written addresses and made closing arguments.
Ladoja’s lawyer, Mr Bolaji Onilenla, contended that the charge was defective and should therefore be dismissed.
“Where the essential elements of a charge are missing, such a charge is a nullity because in the first place, there is no charge and not even an amendment can cure it.
“So, we urge Your Lordship to, on the basis of these objections, quash the charges. The court is urged to discharge and acquit the first defendant,” Onilenla said.
He added that the EFCC failed to prove its allegation that Ladoja sent £600,000 from the state coffers to his daughter, Bimpe Ladoja, who was in London at the time.
“Vital witnesses were not called; all the issues raised as to the competence of the charges, none has been addressed. I sympathise with the prosecution.
“On the whole, the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. On the other hand, the 1st defendant has discharged the burden placed upon
“If you do not have evidence against a party, why drag him to court? I am urging Your Lordship to courageously do justice between the parties and say if you don’t have evidence, don’t charge people to court,” Olumide-Fusika said.
According to him, Ladoja’s ex-aide, Atanda, whom the EFCC converted to a witness, was supposed to be the one on trial, rather than Ladoja and Akanbi.
“I urge Your Lordship to discharge and acquit my client because there is no shred of evidence against him. He is guilty of nothing,” Olumide-Fusika said.
But the prosecutor, Olabisi Oluwafemi, argued that the prosecution proved the essential elements of the offences charged.
“We pray the court to convict the defendants guilty as charged,” Olabisi said.
EFCC accused the defendants of converting N1, 932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo to their personal use through the Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited, despite knowing that it was proceed of crime.
The prosecution said Ladoja removed £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja in London.
Ladoja also allegedly bought an armoured Land Cruiser jeep with N42million for himself using public funds.
EFCC said he converted N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at different times in 2007, and allegedly transferred N77, 850,000 to Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361 in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The alleged offence, EFCC said, contravenes sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, punishable under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2).
Ladoja and Akanbi pleaded not guilty.
Ladoja was governor from May 29, 2003 to January 12, 2006 when he was impeached. On November 1, 2006, the Appeal Court Ibadan, declared the impeachment null and illegal.
The Supreme Court upheld the decision on November 11, 2009, and Ladajo resumed office on December 12, 2006. He, however, lost a re-election bid.
Justice Mohammed Idris thanked parties for ensuring that the matter “has been finally concluded.”
“The burial is the judgment. It will be buried finally,” the judge said.
The judgment day would soon be communicated to the parties, Justice Idris added.