A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Friday refused to issue a warrant for the arrest of a former Governor of Oyo state, Mr Rashidi Ladoja, following his presence in court.
At the last adjourned date, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had urged the Court to issue a bench warrant against Ladoja.
The anti-graft agency’s request followed Ladoja’s failure to appear in court to answer a N4.7m money laundering charges against him.
But, Ladoja’s lawyer, Bolaji Onilenla had told the court that he was not aware that the business of that day was for the arraignment.
Onilenla had argued that this was so, because there was a pending appeal before the Supreme Court.
He informed the court that after the decision of the Court of Appeal, Ladoja had changed his counsel, and then, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.
He stated that neither the accused nor their counsels were served with any court summons to appear in court.
Onilenla had also challenged the prosecutorial powers of the prosecutor on the grounds that the fiat to prosecute was exclusively given to Fetus Keyamo.
He added that such fiat could not be transferred to any other person in his chambers.
He also disclosed that the Supreme Court had earlier dismissed Ladoja’s appeal pursuant to order 6 rule 3 of the procedure rules.
Arguing further, he said the application had been filed to restore the appeal. And to continue with the trial will amount to showing disrespect to the apex court. This he said would be an infringement on the rights of the accused.
Delivering his ruling on the issue on Friday, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, held that he would not make any order as to arrest since the accused was present in court.
The judge also turned down the request of defence counsel for a stay of proceedings pending the outcome of an appeal challenging the prosecutorial powers of the commission under the money laundering Act.
According to the judge, the request was against the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015. The act the judge added allows speedy hearing of criminal cases.
Similarly, Justice Idris also dismissed the objection of defence counsel, challenging the appearance of the prosecution’s counsel, Olabisi Oluwayemi (from Festus Keyamo’s chambers).
The court thereafter, fixed Dec. 14 for arraignment.
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.
EFCC said the ex-Oyo governor remitted about 600,000 pounds to his wife, Bimpe Ladoja in London.
Ladoja and Akanbi had both pleaded not guilty to the charges at the trial court. They had urged the court to quash the charges.
But the lower court refused their prayer to quash the charges.
Dissatisfied, Ladoja had appealed against the decision of the Federal High Court.
But, the Appellate Court in its judgement delivered by Justice Sidi Bage, had disallowed the appeal and ordered the former governor to continue his trial at the lower court.
Bage in his lead judgement which was unanimously adopted by two other justices, had held that the EFCC had statutory powers to prosecute under Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004.