The Court of Appeal, Lagos, on Friday disallowed an appeal filed by former governor Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo State, seeking to quash a criminal charge preferred against him by the EFCC.
Delivering the lead judgment at the appellate court, Justice Saheed Bagir, upheld the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute offenders under the money laundering Act.
Bagir held that the provisions of Section 14 of the Act gave the commission the power to prosecute persons charged with the offence of money laundering.
Besides, the court also held that by the provisions of Section 7(2) of the EFCC Act, the commission was also empowered to charge and prosecute the appellants in the suit.
The judge, therefore, refused the appeal and ordered the appellants to face their trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the EFCC had in November 2008, arraigned Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, on a 10-count charge of money laundering.
They were arraigned before Justice Ramat Mohammed, but both pleaded not guilty, were granted bail and trial had commenced.
Ladoja had, however, filed the appeal through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), seeking to quash the charge levied against him on the grounds that it was vague.
Adopting his written address before the appellate court on Jan. 15, Olanipekun argued that the proof of evidence tendered before the lower court by the prosecution, had no nexus with the charge against the appellants.
He argued that the charge did not disclose any prima facie case against the appellants and so was baseless.
Olanipekun submitted that the EFCC had no power, jurisdiction or authority to prefer the charge against the appellant and urged the court to so hold.
Responding, counsel to the EFCC, Mr Festus Keyamo, had urged the court to uphold the validity of the charge, adding that such objection ought to have been raised before the plea of the accused was taken.
He argued that since the respondents had failed to take necessary steps when they ought to have done so, the objection becomes a nullity and urged the court to discountenance same.
In the charge, the appellants were alleged to have conspired to convert resources derived from illegal acts, with the aim of concealing the origin of the resources.
It was further alleged that Ladoja used about N42 million to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep and remitted about 600,000 pounds to one Bimpe Ladoja in London.
NAN reports that proceedings at the lower court were stayed, to abide with the decision of the appellate court. (NAN)