Akala, others ON TRIAL for involvement in _11.5bn fraud


A former Governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Alao-Akala, should face trial as evidences tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against him are compelling, an Oyo State High Court Judge said yesterday.
Mr. Akala; his former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and serving Senator, Hosea Agboola; and an Ibadan-based businessman, Femi Babalola; were dragged before the court by the EFCC over their alleged involvement in a N11.5 billion fraud against the state.
The accused had asked that the charges brought before the court against them be quashed; but the presiding judge, Akintunde Boade, said he is convinced that the avalanche of evidence brought by the anti-graft agencies against the trio are sufficient for prosecution.
Boade, in his 40-minute ruling, dismissed the accused persons’ quest to stop the 11-count charge preferred against them.
The charges include conspiracy, illegal award of contracts, obtaining by false presence, acquiring property with money derived from illegal act, and concealing the ownership of such property.
The lead counsel to the accused persons, Lateef Fagbemi, had filed a preliminary objection to the charge.
He prayed the court to quash it, arguing that the prosecution did not disclose any substantial evidence to warrant the accused persons to stand full trial based on the allegations.
He pleaded with the judge to strike out or dismiss the charge, describing it as sheer oppression and abuse of power.
The prosecution team, led by Godwin Oblah, however, told the court that the evidence gathered and presented before the court against the accused persons are overwhelming and deserve explanation. He asked that the court discountenances the application seeking to quash the charge.
After listening to arguments on both sides, Mr. Boade declared that the application seeking to quash the charge was not meritorious, He dismissed the application.
The judge was convinced that the accused persons deserved to be arraigned, saying “I am of the strong view that the proof of evidence is established against the accused persons”.
He also noted that the accused persons lack the locus standi to query the court’s jurisdiction having taken their pleas in line with the provision of Section 167 of the Civil Procedure Law.
The judge, again, faulted a claim by the former governor that he is not a public officer and so could not be tried by the EFCC, citing relevant authorities to support his position on dismissing their application.
The accused persons’ legal team was led by Mamman Osumor, who commended the Judge on the ruling, but disagreed with the judge’s position.
“We do not accept this ruling as a correct position of law.
“For we the lawyers, who are counsel to the three accused persons, our legal opinion is that the position taken by the Judge is erroneous in law.
“But because we are not the litigants, or the accused persons, we will await further instructions from our clients”, Mr. Osumor said.
The lawyer requested that the Certified True Copy, CTC, be ready on time, making the Judge to promise that it would be ready within seven days.


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