Senator Rashidi Ladoja
A Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria Friday adjourned till 25 November to decide whether to issue bench warrant against former Governor of Oyo state Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja, now national leader of the Accord party or not.
When the case was mentioned today, the proceedings were characterised by argument and counter argument from the EFCC prosecutor Mr Olufemi Olabisi and the defence counsel Bolaji Onilenla.
Mr Olabisi urged the court to issue bench warrant against Senator Rasheed Ladoja and his co-accused Waheed Akanbi as the two accused have failed to appear before the court for re-arraignment.
He told the court that they were invited by the EFCC but failed to honour the invitation.
In a swift reaction, Mr Onilenla urged the court to discountenance the submission of the Mr Olabisi on the ground that the accused persons were not served any hearing notices.
Apart from this, he contended that Mr Olabisi has no legal right to prosecute the case because Mr Festus Keyamo who was issued fiat by the Attorney General to prosecute the case was absent in court and cannot delegate his power of fiat to any other counsel.
Mr Onilenla further argued that he had filed an application before the Supreme Court to re-list the substantive appeal dismissed by the apex court and that no date has been fixed for the hearing of the said application.
He said if the court should proceed with the case the right of his clients to fair hearing will be jeopardised. He urged the court to decline to issue bench warrant and adjourn the case indefinitely.
In his reply, Mr Olabisi urged the court to discountenance the submission of Mr Onilenla and go ahead to issue the bench warrant. On his qualification to prosecute the case, he produced the authority issued to him to prosecute the case.
After listening to the argument and the submission of the two parties, the presiding Judge, Mohammed Idris adjourned till 25 November, for ruling.
The impending re-arraignment of Ladoja was not unconnected with his loss at the Appeal Court the appeal he filed against the decision of a Federal High Court refusing to quash the money laundering charges filed against him and one of his aides, Waheed Akanni, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Court of Appeal in Lagos disallowed an appeal filed by the former governor, seeking to quash a criminal charge preferred against him by the EFCC.
Delivering the lead judgment at the appellate court, Justice Saheed Bagir, upheld the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute offenders under the Money Laundering Act.
Bagir held that the provisions of Section 14 of the Act gave the commission the power to prosecute persons charged with the offence of money laundering.
Besides, the court also held that by the provisions of Section 7(2) of the EFCC Act, the commission was also empowered to charge and prosecute the appellants in the suit.
The appellate court therefore refused the appeal and ordered the appellants to face their trial before the Federal High Court,in Lagos.
The anti -graft agency in November 2008, arraigned Ladoja and one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, on a 10-count charge of money laundering.
They were arraigned before Justice Ramat Mohammed, but both pleaded not guilty, and they were granted bail and trial had commenced.
However Ladoja filed an appeal through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), seeking to quash the charge levelled against him on the grounds that it was vague