The trial of a former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, for alleged N4.7bn fraud continued on Friday with the prosecution witness telling the court how the ex-governor sent £600,000(about N220m) to his daughter, Bimpe, in London sometime in 2007.
The prosecution witness, Mr. Adewale Atanda, who was then Senior Special Executive Assistant to Ladoja, told the court that the money was part of a sum of N634m, which some stockbrokers contributed to Ladoja’s impeachment expenses.
According to him, the ex-governor had earlier instructed the sale of some shares belonging to Oyo State Government to the said stockbrokers, who later contributed N634m to his impeachment expenses.
The N634m, Atanda said, was part of the commission and profit realised by the stockbrokers.
The witness said the N634m was delivered to him by the stockbrokers, adding that he had to first remove about N180m, which he had earlier borrowed and spent on Ladoja’s instructions in the heat of the impeachment saga.
Part of the N180m, he said, was the N80m he obtained from Wema Bank Plc, which Ladoja used to purchase 22 vehicles for Oyo State lawmakers to prevent his impeachment.
Another was a loan of N80m, which he (Atanda) obtained from Lagoon Savings and Loans for the purpose of buying for Ladoja a property known as Quarters 361, which the Oyo State Government put up for sale.
Another was N13.8m which Ladoja used to buy two Land Cruiser vehicles for the state security personnel for his protection.
Atanda said having deducted the N180m which he borrowed on Ladoja’s behalf, he distributed the balance of the N634m according to Ladoja’s instructions.
Among the beneficiaries of the money, he said, was Bimpe, to whom he delivered £600,000 in £50 bills in London sometime in 2007.
He said Ladoja’s wife, Yinka, also got on different occasions sums of N20m, N19.5m and $13,000.
Among the beneficiaries, Atanda said, were lawyers including “Akintola and Olujinmi” who the witness said represented Ladoja in court.
Asked by the prosecutor, Oluwafemi Olabisi, under what circumstances the sum of £600,000 was paid to Bimpe Ladoja, Atanda said, “His Excellency wanted me to pay the money into his account but I had difficulty doing it. I told him and he said he would ask his daughter to contact me. She did and I gave her the money.
“The money was mostly in £50 notes; I put it in small suitcases and handed the money over to her in London. I think it was in 2007.”
Atanda added that the N20m he gave to Yinka Ladoja was probably what she had lent Ladoja during the impeachment heat.
“On another occasion, they were conducting Local Government Area elections in the state. So, on the eve of the election, I think money was required to be distributed to all the local governments. I was in Lagos, she (Yinka) called me and said His Excellency said she should collect N19.5m.
“Then there was a time she was travelling and I was told to send $13,000 into her account,” Atanda added.
However, under cross-examination by Ladoja’s lawyer, Bolaji Onilenla, Atanda said neither Bimpe nor Ladoja gave him anything to acknowledge the payment of the £600,000 to Bimpe.
Further proceedings were adjourned till April 12 and 13, 2017.
The EFCC is prosecuting Ladoja alongside a former Oyo State Commissioner for Finance, Waheed Akanbi.
The duo were arraigned on eight counts of money laundering on December 14, 2016 before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The duo were accused of conspiring among themselves to siphon N4.7bn from the coffers of the state and launder same.
In one instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that is prosecuting them, accused them of converting a sum of N1,932,940,032.48 belonging to Oyo State to their personal own, using a Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited.
The EFCC claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007, despite their knowledge that it was proceeds of a criminal conduct.
In another instance, Ladoja was accused of removing a sum of £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London.
The ex-governor was also accused of converting a sum of N42m belonging to the state to his own and subsequently used it to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.
He was also accused of converting a sum of N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 at separate times in 2007 to his own.
The EFCC claimed that Ladoja transferred the N77, 850,000 to one Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361, Ibadan, Oyo State.
The EFCC told the court that Ladoja and Akanbi acted contrary to sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and were liable to be punished under sections 14(1), 16(a) (b) and 18(2) of the same Act.
The defendants pleaded not guilty.