By Bartholomew Madukwe
A Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday struck out the N77 million fraud charge brought against the Oyo State, former commissioner for Trade, Investment and Cooperatives, Mr. Kazeem Adedeji by the Police.
Other defendants in the suit are: Yinka Fatoki, a former Director in the Ministry, and Kolawole Adewole, a banker.
According to the charge, the three accused persons are facing a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud, offences contrary to the provisions of Sections 1(1), 1(3) (a) and 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, Cap A6, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
They were standing trial before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke and being prosecuted by the Police.
At Friday’s proceeding, the judge struck out the suit for lack of diligent prosecution, as the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Effiong Asuquo, a Superintendent of Police was not in court but was represented by I.O Idowu who could not go ahead with the trial.
The prosecutor informed the court that the accused committed the offences between July 2012 and June 2013, and had written a letter for the adjournment of the matter as he was indisposed.
It will be recalled that Asuquo had said that sometime in 2012, while Adedeji was still Commissioner, the Oyo State Government entered into a partnership with a bank. He said the fund, with a total of N1 billion, was a pool from which indigenous entrepreneurs could access credit facilities.
Asuquo explained that the state government and the bank had each contributed N500 million respectively, towards the fund.
He said the joint venture was aimed at promoting Micro and Medium business in Oyo State.
The prosecutor said that Adedeji lodged the said contribution into Enterprise Bank, where his wife worked as account officer, without the consent and approval of the Oyo State Government.
He told the court that the accused then conspired to obtain over N77 million from the fund, which was allocated to non-existing companies.
Asuquo said that the accused granted the facilities to Josh-Tolani Ventures, Tembenatil Ventures, Ojoo God’s Grace Cooperative Society, Agric Preserve Company Ltd, and Adis Steel Works Ltd, adding that upon investigation at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), it was discovered that none of these companies were registered.
However, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, counsel to the former Commissioner, leading other two lawyers, Mr. Olalekan Olansibe and Mr. Olabode Iranloye, for the second and third accused persons respectively had urged the court to dismiss all the charges against the accused persons due to the failure of the prosecution to prosecute the matter.