The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re-arraigned former governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, and two others in a high court sitting in Ibadan over alleged N11.5 billion fraud.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, the other defendants are a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Senator Hosea Agboola and an Ibadan-based businessman, Femi Babalola.
The defendants are facing an 11-count charge of conspiracy, awarding contract without budgetary provision, obtaining by false pretence, acquiring property with money derived from illegal act and concealing the ownership of such property, among others.
EFCC’s counsel, Dr. B. Ubi, told the court that when Alao-Akala was the governor, he awarded a road contract worth N8.5 billion between 2007 and 2009 to Pentagon Engineering Services.
Ubi alleged that the firm owned by Babalola handled the contract on behalf of the 33 local governments without budgetary provision.
The counsel further claimed that Alao-Akala ordered the supply of drilling machines on behalf of the 33 local governments to the tune of N3.5 billion. He also alleged that the former governor conspired with Agboola to withdraw N2.9 billion from Oyo State Local Government Joint Account.
The prosecutor told the court that Alao-Akala illegally acquired some property on Old Bodija road, off Rotimi Williams road, when he was the governor.
He said that the offences contravened Section 22 (4) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and Section 1 (18) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Counsel to Alao-Akala and Babalola, Mr. Hakeem Afolabi (SAN), prayed the court to exercise its discretion in granting bail to the defendants.
Afolabi said that the charge before the court was not a fresh one but a re-arraignment. He said the matter was first filed on October 11, 2011, before Justice Moshood Abas and bail was granted after the defendants met the conditions.
The defendants had also appeared before Justice Akintunde Boade and Justice Bayo Taiwo who was recently transferred out of Ibadan Division.
Afolabi said that Alao-Akala was granted bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties in like sum while the other defendants were granted bail in the sum of N3 million each with two sureties in like sum. He urged the court to allow the defendants enjoy the earlier bail condition granted to them.
Counsel to Agboola, Mr. Richard Ogunwole (SAN) aligned with the submission of Alao-Akala’s counsel. The EFCC lawyer said he would not oppose the bail applications.
Justice Muniru Owolabi granted the defendants’ prayers and adjourned the case till April 16 for trial.
Also yesterday, a Minna High Court adjourned indefinitely the trial of former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, over alleged N4.568billion fraud.
Aliyu is standing trial alongside the State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Tanko Beji and a former Commissioner of Environment, Umar Nasko.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Sam Adda, counsel to Nasko, prayed the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely.
According to the counsel, the call for adjournment is due to an appeal filed against the court’s decision to dismiss his preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to try his client.
Adda said that he had applied to the Court of Appeal for an order staying the proceedings of the trial at the state high court pending the determination of his appeal.
He maintained that continuing proceedings at the state high court while there was an application for stay of proceedings before a superior court would amount to judicial rascality.
The EFCC counsel, Chile Okoroma, objected to the application to adjourn the matter indefinitely. He argued that stay of proceedings should not be granted in cases prosecuted by the anti-grant agency.
He urged the court to dismiss the application as he was ready to call his witnesses who were in court for commencement of trial.
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