Alleged N11.5bn fraud: Absence of EFCC witnesses stalls Alao-Akala’s case

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The trial of a former governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, and two others for alleged N11.5billion fraud was on Friday stalled, due to the absence of the prosecution witness.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Alao-Akala, Hosea Agboola, a former Commissioner for Local Governments under the administration and Femi Babalola, a businessman.

It would be recalled that Justice Olalekan Owolabi of the Oyo State High Court had on Jan. 16 issued a witness summons on an official of the EFCC, Mr. Muhammed Goji and six others.

Others summoned by the court are officials from the Oyo State Ministry of Finance, Mr. Olutoyin Akanmu, Mrs. Florence Oyebanji, and Mr. Adebayo Bankole, Mr. Ademola Ojo of No 4 Bodija area.

Also summoned were Mr. Thomas Oladokun from Oyo State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and the Director, Federal Ministry of Works in-charge of Oyo and Osun State. At the resumed hearing of the matter on Friday, EFCC’s Counsel, Dr. Benedict Ubi, told the court that he was only able to serve three out of the seven witnesses.

Ubi said that the EFCC official, who was served could not appear because he would be testifying in a Federal High Court, Abuja, in a case between the commission and Faisal Maina, son of former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed.

The counsel said that he did not receive any response from the two others who are officials of the Oyo State Ministry of Finance and Local Government and Chieftaincy matters served with the summoning.

Ubi said all attempts to serve the remaining four prosecution witnesses were fruitless and therefore could not proceed with the hearing of the case and prayed the court for an adjournment.

Alao-Akala and Agboola’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said that the prosecution has treated the defendants and court unfairly and the proceedings turned into persecution.

Fagbemi said that this was the ninth time that the prosecution would be seeking an adjournment since the beginning of the case in 2011.

He said that the case ought to have been given priority to that of Faisal Maina, which started in 2019.

According to Fagbemi, the defense has been accommodating enough and urged the court to close the case of the Prosecution and order the defense to open its case.

Mr. Richard Ogunwole, SAN, Counsel to Babalola, aligned with the submission of Fagbemi, adding that the aim of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act had been totally defeated.

Justice Olalekan Owolabi said that he has on several occasions frowned at the action of the prosecution.

Owolabi said that he reluctantly grants the prayer of the prosecution for an adjournment for the last time. and adjourned the case until Feb. 28 of continuation of hearing.

NAN reports that the defendants are facing an 11-count charge of conspiracy, fraud, awarding contract without budgetary provision, acquiring property with money derived from illegal act among others.

The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail. (NAN)

– Feb. 14, 2020 @ 14:55 GMT |

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