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Chief Rasheed Ladoja’s trial continued this afternoon before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos. Mr. Adewale Atanda, the former governor’s political associate who is the second witness for the prosecution continued with his testimony as he was cross-examined by the lawyers representing Chief Ladoja and the 2nd Defendant, Commissioner of Finance under Chief Ladoja’s administration, Chief Waheeb Akanbi respectively.
Mr. Atanda while being cross-examined by Mr. Onilenla, counsel to Chief Ladoja restated his testimony that he had given the sum of £600,000 to Miss Bimpe Ladoja on the instructions of Chief Ladoja. He confirmed that he gave her the money in his apartment in London. The money was removed from the total sum of N633 million which was paid into the account of Heritage Apartments Limited for the sale of the shares belonging to the Oyo State Government. He testified that there was no one else present when the former governor instructed him to receive the money for the sale of the shares from the stockbrokers. He admitted that prior to the instant charge, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had proffered two charges in respect of the transactions regarding the sale of shares of the Oyo State Government and that both he and Heritage Apartments Limited were defendants in the two charges.
While being cross-examined by Mr. Fusika, counsel to Chief Akanbi, Mr. Atanda stated that he made several statements to the EFCC during the investigation of the transactions and he identified the statements shown to him from the proof of evidence as the statements he made. When Mr. Fusika sought to tender copies of the statements, the prosecutor, Mr. Olabisi objected to their admissibility on the ground that they were public documents and thus mere photocopies were inadmissible. He argued that only the original or photocopies of the documents were admissible. Mr. Fusika in response argued that the statements were produced from the proof of evidence served on him by the prosecution and that the prosecution ought to know that the documents would be required and thus produced them. The court in its ruling agreed that the statements given by Mr. Atanda to the EFCC were public documents and that mere photocopies were inadmissible. The court relying on the cases of Umogbai v. Aiyemhoba and Uzoma v. Asodike, however held that rather than marking the documents tendered and rejected, the position of the law is that uncertified or improperly certified documents could be properly certified and re-tendered in evidence. He therefore directed Mr. Fusika to certify the documents and re-tender them.
The witness was also shown the incorporation documents of Heritage Apartments Limited, which he identified and was subsequently tendered and admitted as exhibits before the court. He confirmed that he and his wife were the directors of the company and that the company operates accounts with several banks. He also testified that he was the sole signatory of all the accounts of the company. He testified that all the cheques issued for the sale of the shares of Oyo State were made payable to Heritage Apartments in the sum of N633 million and that Chief Akanbi did not get a single penny from the sum.
Mr. Atanda who had earlier testified in his examination-in-chief that he took a loan of the sum of N80 million from Wema Bank to finance the purchase of 20 vehicles given to members of the Oyo State House of Assembly to keep them loyal to Chief Ladoja stated while being cross-examined by Mr. Fusika that the loan was obtained through a company called V.T. Leasing Limited and that the loan sum was disbursed directly to the suppliers of the vehicles. He stated that though his shareholding in V.T. Leasing Limited is less than one percent and he is neither a director nor in paid employment with the company, he was able to use his goodwill to make the company apply for the loan. He admitted that V.T. Leasing Limited had lease agreements with the members of the House of Assembly who received the vehicles wherein they were to pay lease rentals but that the agreements were done just as a back up. He further testified that the original security for the loan was a lien of the loan sum on the funds of the Oyo State Government but when the security was not forthcoming, he gave his personal guarantee. The loan went bad and he testified that it fell on him to pay back the loan facility, which was eventually repaid from the N633 million paid into the account of Heritage Apartments.
Mr. Atanda had testified in his examination-in-chief that during the impeachment saga, he had accommodated Chief Ladoja and about 14 members of the House of Assembly in his hotel in Victoria Island for an extended period of time and that the hotel was shut down to other occupants for that period for security reasons. Under cross-examination, he stated that the name of the hotel is Heritage Courts and Inns also owned by Heritage Apartments. He stated that he accommodated the former governor and others from December 2005 to December 2006, a period of about one year. He added that he did not expect revenue for that period, as there was no expectation that Chief Ladoja who had then been impeached would return to office and it was his contribution to the fight against the impeachment.
He also testified that the sum of £600,000 given to Miss Ladoja was gotten from the sum of N633 million paid into the account of Heritage Apartments Limited and that he converted the sum to foreign currency through a Bureau-De-Change operator who he paid by issuing cheques from the account of Heritage Apartments Limited.
Mr. Fusika could not conclude his cross-examination today and the suit has been adjourned to the 25th of May 2017 for continuation of trial.