Wednesday, March 1, 2017 5:55 pm
By Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, South West Nigeria today , adjourned till tomorrow, to rule on either to admit a petition tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or not in a criminal case filed against the former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja, and his former Aide, Waheed Akanbi, who are standing trial before the court on alleged N4.7 billion fraud.
The court adjournment was based on the objection raised by lawyers representing the two accused persons, Mr. Bolaji Onilenla, and K. Olumide.
At the resumed trial of the former Governor and his former aide, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Festus Keyamo, tendered a petition through his witness, Mr. Abdulahi Lawal, an operative/investigator with the EFCC.
The operative told the court that the commission sometimes in July 2007, received a petition from the office of the Secretary to the Oyo State Government (SSG), in which the names of the two accused persons were mentioned.
Consequently he urged the court to admit the petition as exhibit in the Criminal trial but the defence counsels opposed the tendering the document.
In urging the court to reject the petition, Ladoja’s lawyer, Onilenla, said the prosecution failed to comply with the Section 371 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which make it mandatory and fundamental for the prosecution to furnish the defence with all documents it intend to tender in a criminal trial.
He also stated that the petition is not listed in the prove of evidence. consequently, he urged the court to reject the document and Mark it as rejected.
In the same vain, lawyer to the second accused person, Mr. Makinde, told the court that the prosecution is not ready to prosecute his case, that is why they are bringing document not listed in the prove of evidence.
Makinde equally urged the court to reject the tendering of the petition.
Responding, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Keyamo, said Section 371 of ACJA was not applicable to the Federal High Court. He said the court has summary jurisdiction to admit any documents despite not listed in the prove-of-evidence, as there is no mandatory provision of the law for such
Keyamo stated that the prosecution has stated in its prove-of evidence, that it shall rely on ‘all relevant documents’.
He said the petition is how the complaint came to the Commission, and how investigation was conducted. He however stated that the defence can go and study the petition and come back for their defence, adding that the document he intend to tender has met all the condition of admissibility.
He therefore urged the court to admit the document as exhibit in the trial.
But Onilenla and Makinde said with the submission made by the prosecution, the only option left for the court is to determine the admissibility of the document, as it’s late for the prosecution to withdraw it.
Consequently, the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, adjourned till tomorrow, to rule on the admissibility of the petition, and continuation of trial.
Ladoja, a one time Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria,and former Governor of Oyo state and his former aide Akanbi are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris on eight counts charge bordering on money laundering.
The two of them were re-arraigned on an 8-count charge of money laundering contrary to Section 17(a) and punishable under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
They pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail on conditions earlier granted them by Justice Ramat Mohammed who had earlier presided over the case.
The EFCC had in November 2008 arraigned the two accused persons on a 10-count charge over the alleged offence before Justice Ramat Mohammed, who was then serving at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that the former governor and his Aide, conspired to convert properties and resources derived from an illegal act, with the intention of concealing their illicit origin.
They were also alleged to have used N42 million out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep, and remitted about £600,000 to one, Bimpe Ladoja in London.