EFCC re-arraigns Alao-Akala, 2 others over N11.5bn fraud

By:Sinmiloluwa Fadoju

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned former Oyo State Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, and two others in an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan over alleged N11.5 billion fraud.

Former Oyo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hosea Agboola, and an Ibadan-based businessman, Femi Babalola, are the two other defendants.

They 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 Alao-Akala, as governor of Oyo State, 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 in the state to the tune of N3.5 billion.

He also alleged that Alao-Akala conspired with Ayoola to withdraw N2.9 billion from Oyo State Local Government Joint Account.

The prosecutor told the court that Alao-Akala also illegally acquired some property on Old Bodija Road, off Rotimi Williams Road in Ibadan when he was the governor of the state.

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.

Hakeem Afolabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and counsel to Alao-Akala and Babalola prayed the court to exercise its discretion in granting bail to the defendants.

Mr 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 Oct. 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 to enjoy the earlier bail condition granted to the defendants.

Richard Ogunwole, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria and counsel to Ayoola, aligned with the submission of Alao-Akala’s counsel.

The EFCC counsel said he would not oppose the bail applications.

Justice Muniru Owolabi granted the defendants’ prayers and adjourned the case till April 16 for trial.

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