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Prosecutor’s absence stalls N11.5bn fraud case against Akala, others

Justice Olalekan Owolabi of the Oyo State High Court has once again adjourned the case instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) against…

Justice Olalekan Owolabi of the Oyo State High Court has once again adjourned the case instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) against a former governor of Oyo State, Otunba

Adebayo Alao-Akala and two others for alleged embezzlement of the sum of N11.5 billion.

Owolabi adjourned the case yesterday after EFCC’s counsel, Dr Ben Ubi, told the court that the second witness, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, who is also the current Head, Operations at the Commission’s Port Harcourt zonal office, was unable to make it to the court.

Alao-Akala is standing trial on an 11-count charge, alongside the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters during his tenure, Hosea Agboola, and an Ibadan-based businessman, Femi Babalola.

The offences against the accused men border on conspiracy, awarding a contract without budgetary provision, obtaining by false pretence, acquiring

property with money derived from an illegal act and concealing the ownership of such property.

The offences, according to the court papers, include an alleged award of a road contract worth N8.5bn, which Alao-Akala gave between 2007 and 2009 to Pentagon Engineering Services, Babalola’s company, allegedly without budgetary provision.

The said contract was said to have been executed on behalf of the 33 local governments in the state.

Also in the charge is the allegation that the former governor ordered the supply of drilling machines on behalf of the 33 local governments in the state to the tune of N3.5bn.

Apart from the allegation that the former governor conspired with Agboola to withdraw N2.9bn from the Oyo State Local Government Joint Account, the EFCC is also prosecuting him for allegedly illegally acquiring some property on Old Bodija road, off Rotimi Williams road, when he was in office.

The court had intended to continue with the trial, which started in 2011 and had suffered many adjournments, yesterday but that could not happen since the witness billed for cross-examination was not present.

Dr Ubi told the court that the witness was unable to attend the proceedings because he was involved in election duties in Rivers State, and asked the court for another adjournment.

Counsel to the first and third defendants, Hakeem Afolabi, and his counterpart holding the brief of the second defendant, Richard Ogunwole, did not oppose the prayer.

Justice Owolabi then adjourned the matter to May 2, 2019 for continuation of trial and ordered the prosecution to make its witnesses available at the next date.