The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are seeking a warrant from a Federal High Court in Lagos to arrest former Governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Ladoja, for refusing to show up in court in a N4.7 billion money laundering charge instituted against him by the commission.
Ladoja had through his former lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) appealed against the decision of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which refused to quash the 10 counts of money laundering.
But, the Appellate Court in its judgement delivered by Justice Sidi Bage disallowed the appeal and ordered the former governor to continue his trial at the lower court.
Justice Bage in his lead judgement unanimously adopted by other two justices held that the EFCC has power to prosecute under Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004.
When the matter came up on Friday, prosecuting lawyer, Olabisi Oluwafemi from Festus Keyamo’s chambers informed the court that the matter was for the arrangement of Ladoja along with his former aide, Chief Waheed Akanbi.
He stated that the defendants were invited and asked to appear at the EFCC office but they did not honour the invitation.
He told that court that the defendants deliberately stayed away from court, and merely sent their lawyers to represent them.
He urged the court to issue bench warrant against the defendants arguing that without their attendance in court the trial cannot proceed.
But Ladoja’s lawyer, Bolaji Onilenla, told the court that he was not aware that the business of the day was for the arraignment of the defendants since the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.
He informed the court that after the decision of the Court of Appeal, Ladoja changed his counsel when he appealed to the Supreme Court.
He stated neither the defendants not their counsel were served with any court summons to appear in court.
Onilenla also challenged the prosecutorial power of the prosecuting lawyer submitting that the fiat to prosecute was exclusively given to Fetus Keyamo, and that the fiat cannot be transferred to any other person in Keyamo’s chambers.
“We are challenging the locus standi of the prosecuting lawyer to set this matter down for hearing. If the fiat is given to Keyamo no other person in his chamber can take it over. It can not be transferred. Keyamo should personally prosecute it, he cannot transfer the prosecutorial power to any other person in his chamber”.
He disclosed that the Supreme Court had earlier dismissal Ladoja’s appeal pursuant to order 6 rule 3 but application had been filed to restore the appeal.
He added that to continue with the trial will amount to not showing respect to the apex court, and it would be an infringement of rights of the defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris has fixed November 25 to rule on the application for warrant of arrest.
The EFCC had in November 2008 arraigned Ladoja along with his former aide, Chief Waheed Akanbi, before Justice Ramat Mohammed, who was then serving at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the two men conspired to convert properties and resources derived from an alleged illegal act, with the intention of concealing their illicit origin.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Ladoja used N42m out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep, and remitted about £600,000 to one Bimpe Ladoja in London.
Ladoja and Akanbi had both pleaded not guilty to the charges at the trial court.