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Former Oyo Governor, Ladoja testifies in court over alleged fraud

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FORMER Governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, on Tuesday, testified before the Federal High Court, Lagos, in his ongoing N4.7 billion corruption trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ladoja was re-arraigned by the EFCC on November 5, on an 11-count charge of money laundering and illegal conversion of public funds for personal benefits.

Also arraigned alongside the former Governor was his former Commissioner for Finance, Waheed Akanbi. Both accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In one of the charges, Ladoja and Akanbi were accused of diverting the sum of N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo State to the bank account of a private company named Heritage Apartments Limited.

Similarly, Ladoja was accused of moving about £600,000 from the Oyo State treasury and sending same to one Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London. He was also accused of using the sum of N42 million state funds to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep for his personal use.

Also, Ladoja allegedly converted the sum of N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000, monies belong to the Oyo State government, to his personal use. The latter sum, according to the EFCC, was transferred by Ladoja to the account of one Bistrum Investments, a real estate company, to purchase a property for him at Quarter 361, Ibadan, Oyo State.

All these crimes were allegedly committed while Ladoja was Governor of Oyo State, and they run contrary to sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and punishable under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2) of the same Act.

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The EFCC had closed its case against the duo of Ladoja and Akanbi, but instead of opening their defence, the accused persons filed for a no-case submission, arguing that the prosecution has not established a prima facie case against them.

However, the trial judge, Mohammed Idris, on November 12, ruled that the defendants have a case to answer and asked them to open their defence.

So far in 2018, two former state governors have been convicted and sentenced to prison having been found guilty of diverting state funds for personal use during their times in office.

They are Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Jolly Nyame of Taraba State. Both were initially sentenced to 14 years respectively on two counts of corruption charges, seven years for each count.

But recently, the Court of Appeal reduced their sentences to 10 and 12 years respectively on the grounds that they are first time offenders.

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