The trial of former Governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja, charged with N4.7 billion money laundering, got underway on Monday in Lagos as the Defence began cross-examination of another witness at a Federal High Court.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Ladoja alongside a former State Commissioner for Finance, Waheed Akanbi.
The duo was arraigned on Dec. 14, 2016 before Justice Mohammed Idris on eight counts of N4.7 billion money laundering. Both had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails. At the resumption of trial on Monday, the third prosecution witness, Mr. Gregory Otsu, who was still under oath, was cross-examined by the counsel to the second accused, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika. According to the counsel, “Are you aware of the circular dated April 21, 2016 by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, revoking your registration as an authorised dealing clerk? The witness replied: “I am not aware of any circular, but
I was suspended as a stock broker in 2016.” On whether he knew the second accused, the witness replied that he met him once at a meeting unofficially in Ibadan on April 4, 2007, adding that he was invited to the meeting by Deeptrust Stock Broker, Tafar Zibiri. Fusika further asked:“On Nov. 17, 2017, you gave a testimony in this case that it was the second defendant who introduced you to the Managing Director of Fountain Securities, how do you reconcile these facts? “I put it to you that it was Kola Daisi of Fountain Securities that took you to the meeting at Ibadan and not one Tafar Zibiri. “I also put it to you that your story of the second defendant being the one that introduced you to Kola Daisi was invented by you.
How do you react to this? ” “No reaction”, the witness replied. Making reference to a previous case, Fusika told the court that Fountain Securities transferred some shares from Oyo State Government to the witness to sell at the best market price. Fusika asked the witness, “which Ministry did the correspondence between you and Oyo State Government emanate from?” He said:“Ministry of Commerce”, but added that he could not remember the position held by the second accused at the time. After his questions, Olumide-Fusika told the court that he had more questions for the witness, but that time would not permit him.
Justice Idris has adjourned the case until Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 for continuation of cross-examination. The duo was accused of conspiring to siphon and launder N4.7 billon from the coffers of Oyo State. The EFCC accused them of converting a sum of N1.9 billion belonging to the state to personal use, using the account of a company — Heritage Apartments Ltd.
The anti-graft agency claimed they retained the money sometime in 2007 despite their knowledge that it was proceeds of a criminal activity. Ladoja was accused of removing a sum of 600,000 pounds from the state coffers in 2007 and sent same to Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London. In addition, the ex-governor was alleged to have converted the sum of N42 million belonging to the state to his use, and subsequently used same to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.
He was also accused of converting a sum of N728 million and another N77 million at separate times in 2007 to personal use. The EFCC claimed Ladoja transferred the sum to one Bistrum Investments which he nominated to help him purchase a property in Ibadan, Oyo State. The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 14, 16, 17 (a) and 18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibitions) Act, 2004.