Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday reserved judgement in the 10-year-old case of alleged N4.7 billion fraud against a former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi. This was sequel to the adoption of final written address by parties in the matter.
The judge, who had been elevated to the Court of Appeal, was given a fiat by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, to continue with the hearing of the case.
Adopting his client’s final written address, Ladoja’s lawyer, Bolaji Onilenla, told the judge that preliminary objections to the 11-count charge were raised based on three issues. These, according to him, are joinder of charges that were supposed to be filed separately, non-disclosure of facts and non-inclusion of essential elements of the charge.
He urged the court to either quash or dismiss the charge against his client based on the grounds of objection.
“No iota of evidence has been linked to the first defendant (Ladoja), to the conversion and theft of Oyo State resources.
“All the material evidences led were produced by accomplices. All the points raised as to the competence of the charge were never responded to by the prosecution.
“On the whole, the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubts and the first defendant has diligently discharged the burden placed on him. We urged the court to discharge and acquit the first defendant,” Onilenla said.
Speaking in the same vein, Akanbi’s lawyer, A. Olumide-Fusika (SAN), also urged the court to discharge and acquit his client, because the prosecution had failed to prove its case against him.
He said: “We urge the court to discharge and acquit the second defendant on counts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9. No shred of evidence was led against him and as such there was no basis for bringing him to court.”
Responding, prosecution’s lawyer, Oluwafemi Olabisi, insisted that the essential elements of the charge against the defendants had been proved beyond reasonable doubts. He urged the court to convict the defendants as charged.
“In the circumstance of this case, the first defendant cannot feign ignorance of the activities of the second prosecution witness, Adewale Atanda. The crux of the prosecution’s case against the second defendant is that he was a chief planner. He made written recommendation to the first defendant regarding the sale of the shares,” Olabisi said.
After listening to the submissions of the parties, Justice Idris reserved the matter for judgement. The former governor and his aide were for the second time in about two years re-arraigned on 5th November, 2018, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court over alleged N4.7 billion fraud.