Lagos – A prosecution witness, Mr Abubakar Madaki, on Thursday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that former Gov. Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo admitted taking part of proceeds of the sale of the state shares.
Madaki, an Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) operative, gave evidence in the trial of Ladoja and a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Waheed Akanbi, for N4.7 billion fraud.
The accused were brought before Justice Mohammed Idris on Dec.14, 2016, but they pleaded not guilty to the eight-count charge preferred against them by the EFCC.
The judge granted them bail.
At the resumed trial of the case on Thursday, the prosecution counsel, Mr Oluwafemi Olabisi, continued examination of the witness.
Madaki said that Ladoja confirmed it his statement before the EFCC that he used part of the proceeds from the sale of Oyo State shares to purchase four cars.
The counsel had asked the witness what happened to N400 million out of the N1billion difference of the proceeds which he was to investigate.
Olabisi noted that the witness had identified N600 million out of the N100 billion.
“Part of the proceeds was used to purchase four cars by Ladoja; he promised to return them but he has failed to do so.
“The cars are a jeep, a bus and two other cars supplied to members of the House of Representatives loyal to him,” Madaki said.
He added that the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) conducted a discrete investigation into the alleged fraud and issued a report to the EFCC to that effect.
Olabisi applied to tender the report from the NSE as an exhibit.
The counsel also sought to tender as exhibit, the search warrant for the residence of the Managing Director of McLean Securities.
Messrs Bolaji Onilenla and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, counsel to Ladoja and Akanbi, respectively, did not object to Olabisi’s request.
Consequently the documents were admitted and marked Exhibit H3 and Exhibit H4 respectively.
Madaki also testified that Ladoja approved the reduction of the sale of the shares without any state executive resolution.
The witness identified a correspondence between the commission and Oyo State Government with accompanying documents, which the state obliged the EFCC.
When Olabisi sought to tender the documents, Onilenla objected to that, arguing that the documents were certified only by the commission.
Olabisi then withdrew the documents and prayed the court for an adjournment to enable the prosecution to “do the needful”.
Justice Mohammed adjourned continuation of the trial until May 30.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the accused were charged with conspiring to siphon and launder N4.7 billion from the coffers of Oyo State Government.
The EFCC also accused them of converting N1.9 billion belonging to the state for their personal use through the account of a company known as Heritage Apartments Ltd.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the accused retained the money sometime in 2007 in spite of their knowledge that it was proceeds from a criminal activity.
Ladoja was accused of removing 600,000 pounds from the state coffers in 2007 and sent to his daughter, Bimpe, in London.
In addition, the ex-governor was accused of converting N42 million belonging to the state for his personal use and subsequently used same to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser.
The EFCC added that Ladoja converted N728 million and N77 million at different times in 2007 for his personal use and transferred same to Bistrum Investments for the purchase of a property in Ibadan.
The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 14, 16, 17 (a) and 18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, according to the EFCC. (NAN)