Lagos – A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed March 2 for ruling on admissibility of a document tendered before it in the trial of former Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State.
Ladoja is facing trial alongside one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, on eight counts charge bordering on N4.7 billion frauds filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Mohammed Idris, therefore, fixed March 2 to decide on the admissibility of the petition by the prosecution witness.
When the trial resumed on Wednesday, the prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, called on his first prosecution witness (PW1), Mr Abdullahi Lawal, to give evidence.
The witness, an operative of EFCC, told the court that sometimes in July 2007, a written petition was received by the commission from the office of the Secretary to the Oyo State Government.
Lawal said that in the petition, Ladoja and Akanbi were accused of perpetrating fraud and financial impropriety.
The prosecutor then sought to tender the said petition before the court in evidence.
At this stage, Mr Bolaji Onilenla, counsel to Ladoja, opposed to it on the ground that the said petition had not been served on his client.
Onilenla argued that it was a mandatory provision of the law that the defence should be served with any document sought to be tendered in court by the prosecution.
“I submit that the witness may not be able to testify before the court; we need time to study the document sought to be tendered by him,” he said.
Also, Mr Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, the counsel to Akanbi, argued that it was fundamental for the court to refuse admissibility of the said document.
Olumide-Fusika said the court had earlier directed that the defence should be served with all documents sought to be tendered by the prosecution.
In his response, Keyamo insisted that the court has summary jurisdiction on the matter before it, being criminal in nature.
He said there was no strict law suggesting that the prosecution must supply the defence with every document.
Keyamo said the objection does not go to admissibility at all, arguing that in the proof of evidence, it was stated that reliance would be placed on all documents therein.
“The petition has to do with how the complaint came in, and how EFCC swung into action; they can seek adjournment to look at the document and cross-examine the witness,’’ he said.
The EFCC had in November 2008 arraigned the accused on a 10-count charge of conspiracy to convert property and resources derived from an alleged illegal act.
The EFCC also alleged that the accused had the intention of concealing their illicit origin.
It also alleged that Ladoja used N42 million out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep, and remitted about 600,000 pounds to one Bimpe Ladoja in London.
NAN reports that Ladoja and Akanbi had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were allowed to continue on their earlier bail terms.