Justice Mohammed Idris on Friday acquitted former Oyo State Governor Chief Rashidi Ladoja over alleged 11-count charge of N4.7billion fraud.
The judge in his 250-paged judgement, in acquitted Ladoja while faulting the prosecution’s case, saying it was full of contradictions and badly prosecuted.
Idris said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s case lacked credible evidence and that the prosecution’s case was full of contradictions.
Justice Idris held that the prosecution failed to prove a single ingredient in the 11-count charge as such found Ladoja not guilty on each of the 11 counts.
The 11-year-old case was filed in 2008 and Justice Idris is the third judge to handle the case after Justices I. M. Sanni and A. R. Mohammed.
Twelve witnesses were called in the course of the trial, six each by the prosecution and defence.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Ladoja last November 5 following an amendment to the charge.
The case went up to the Supreme Court due to interlocutory appeals filed by Ladoja.
Ladoja was re-arraigned along with his former Commissioner for Finance Waheed Akanbi on 11 counts of money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.
In the amended charge, EFCC added that Ladoja allegedly “compelled” a broker to sell the state’s shares and allegedly did not remit N1.9billion realised from the sale of the shares.
The prosecution and the defence adopted their final written addresses and made closing arguments on January 21.
EFCC accused the defendants of converting N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo to their personal use through the Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited, despite knowing that it was proceed of crime.
The prosecution said Ladoja removed £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja in London.
Ladoja also allegedly bought an armoured Land Cruiser jeep with N42million for himself using public funds.
EFCC said he converted N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at different times in 2007, and allegedly transferred N77, 850,000 to Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361 in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The alleged offence, EFCC said, contravenes sections
17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, punishable under
sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2).
Ladoja and Akanbi pleaded not guilty.
Justice Idris, who was elevated to the Court of Appeal, concluded the trial through a fiat.
Ladoja was governor from May 29, 2003 to January 12, 2006 when he was impeached. On November 1, 2006, the Appeal Court Ibadan, declared the impeachment null and illegal.
The Supreme Court upheld the decision on November 11, 2009, and Ladajo resumed office on December 12, 2006. He, however, lost a re-election bid.