*As trial begins April 13
LAGOSâ€”Former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Rasheed Ladoja has lost his bid to stop his trial before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
In a ruling delivered yesterday, Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed threw out the three applications through which LadojaÂ sought to quash all the charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Ladoja had argued in the applications that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain all the charges imputed to him as framed. Besides, he argued that all the charges bordered on alleged money laundering offences and that the Money Laundering Prohibition Act (2004) only empowered the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to try offenders on such offences, not the EFCC. He also claimed that the proof of evidence placed before the court by the EFCC had no nexus with the charges and that it did not disclose any prima facie case against him.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said â€œobjection to a defect in a charge can only be made on the day of arraignment when the applicant is taking his plea and not afterwardsâ€. He held that any such objection on the framing of charges against Ladoja by the EFCC could not, therefore, succeed.
He also saidÂ since Ladoja â€œdid not raise any objection to the EFCC trying him in line with the Money Laundering Prohibition Act (2004), it is too late to object to the Act when he has taken his pleaâ€. The Judge also ruled that the proof of evidence placed before the court by the EFCC had links with the charges preferred against Ladoja and that a prima facie case had been disclosed against him. He therefore, quashed all the motions brought against the EFCC and fixed the commencement of trial for 13 April 2010 .
Ladoja is being tried by the EFCC, with one of his former aides, Waheed Akanbi and some companies linked to him on charges of money laundering and diversion of public funds. He was originally arraigned by the EFCC on 28 August 2008 with four of his former aides and a company: Chief Adewale Atanda, Waheed Akanbi; Abiodun Kola Daisi; Mr Gregory Otsu and Heritage Apartments Limited, on a 33 count-charge.
He was re-arraigned on 25 March 2009Â with one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi. The EFCC removed the name of his former Commissioner of Finance, Chief Adewale Atanda, who was initially charged with Ladoja and made him one of its prosecution witnesses. With his failure to quash all the charges preferred against him, the EFCC is succeeding in getting him to answer to all the allegations of money laundering and diversion of public funds filed against him.