Rasheed Ladoja _ Former Oyo State Governor

By Victor Ernest with Agency Report

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday fixed March 1 for commencement of trial of a former Governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, charged with N4.7billion fraud.

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Ladoja, alongside one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, were charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an eight-count bordering on fraud.

The court fixed a new date after the prosecution counsel, Oluwafemi Olabisi, asked the court for an adjournment to enable him supply the defence team with names of more witnesses that would testify in the matter.

Before the request for adjournment, Olabisi’s attempt to examine the first prosecution witness in the case had been rebuffed by Bolaji Onilenla and Olumide Fusika, lawyers to the defendants.

They argued that the witness could not testify because his name was not on the list of witnesses earlier supplied to them by the anti-graft agency in 2008.

The defence lawyers said the move by the commission was simply to ambush them, contrary to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

In his response, Olabisi admitted the error, but pointed out that at the time of filing the case nine years ago, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law had yet to be enacted.

He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the proceedings to enable him to file additional proof of evidence to rectify the error.

After listening to the counsel, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned commencement of trial in the case until March 1.

EFCC had, in November 2008, arraigned the duo on a 10-count charge of conspiring to convert properties and resources derived from an illegal act to personal use with intent to conceal their illicit origin.

The EFCC also alleged that Ladoja used N42million out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep and remitted about 600,000 pounds to one Bimpe Ladoja in London.

Ladoja and Akanbi, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them.