Ladoja failed to return ‘stolen’ funds, EFCC alleges

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The Federal High Court in Lagos Wednesday heard that a former Oyo State Governor Rashidi Ladoja allegedly did not return his own share of funds he received from the sale of the state’s shares.

Ladoja is on trial for allegedly converting N4.7billion from the state treasury to his personal use, which he denied.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him along with Waheed Akanbi, who served as Commissioner for Finance under Ladoja’s administration.

An EFCC investigator, Abubakar Madaki, testifying in Ladoja’s trial, alleged that the former governor unilaterally gave instructions in 2007 that the shares, worth N6.6billion, be sold at discounted rates without the state executive council’s resolution.

The witness said the money allegedly went to Ladoja, his family and friends.

According to the investigator, Ladoja engaged Fountain Securities as a portfolio manager to sell the shares at a discounted rate, adding that the shares were acquired by McLace Securities.

“In the course of our investigation, about N500million was recovered from McLace Security, Fountain Securities and other stockbrokers,” he said.

According to him, Ladoja had promised to return his own share of the money, but never did.

“EFCC recovered over N500million and some vehicles. All the recoveries were remitted to the Oyo State Government, except the money and vehicle that Ladoja got, which he claimed he would return but never did,” Madaki said.

The witness said all the recoveries “were the balance that was supposed to be paid to the state government but was shared”.

Madaki said the Nigerian Stock Exchange had also launched an investigation into how Oyo’s shares were sold.

The witness said EFCC also discovered that a residential apartment known as Quarter 361 was purchased by Ladoja’s former executive assistant Adewale Atanda on Ladoja’s behalf, with the proceeds of shares from Heritage Apartments, which was the state’s broker.

In order to verify that the property was acquired with the shares’ proceed, Madaki said EFCC requested for the payment details, and discovered that a cheque was written by Heritage Apartments.

The witness said Atanda also bought 14 cars for the state lawmakers as well as for Ladoja and his wife using a loan obtained from Wema Bank.

“They used the shares proceeds to offset the loan they took from Wema Bank. The accused benefited from the vehicle. The wife also benefited,” he said.

The witness said investigations were extended to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to unravel the identity of another company named Bistrum Investment Ltd, which was also used in the transfer of Oyo State funds.

He said though the first accused denied personal knowledge of Bistrum, he admitted knowing one its directors who he said was his cousin.

Madaki said further investigations confirmed that Atanda’s account in Lagoon Homes, which also received part of the shares proceeds from stock brokers, was issued a bank draft of N70 million.

EFCC accused Ladoja and Akanbi 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 (about N240, 219,945) 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 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.

Trial continues Thursday.

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