A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed December 14, 2016 for the re-arraignment of a former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who was accused of N4.7bn fraud.
To be re-arraigned alongside Ladoja is Waheed Akanbi.
The presiding Judge Justice Mohammed Idris fixed the date of Ladoja and Akanbi’s re-arraignment on Friday after dismissing their application seeking a stay of proceedings on the grounds that they had an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Ladoja and Akanbi were present in court.
Justice Idris consequently declined the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to issue a warrant for their arrest.
“The court will not make any order for arrest in the light of the appearance of the accused persons in court,” the judge held.
The accused were first arraigned in 2008.
They had subsequently challenged the competence of the charges filed against them by the EFCC all the way to the Supreme Court.
But the Supreme Court on April 15, 2015 dismissed their appeal for being incompetent pursuant to the provisions of Order 6 Rule 3(2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1999.
Following the dismissal of the appeal the EFCC moved to re-open the case and to re-arraign Ladoja and Akanbi before Justice Idris.
But Ladoja’s lawyer, Mr. Bolaji Onilenla, had opposed the bid by the EFCC to re-arraign his client, saying he had gone back to re-list the appeal.
He said he re-listed the appeal on October 27, 2016 on the grounds that the appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court without hearing it.
Onilenla insisted that his client had yet to exhaust the window of appeal open to him at the Supreme Court and contended that the EFCC could not cut Ladoja’s right of appeal short by rushing to re-open the case.
“What we are saying in effect, My Lord, is that our right of appeal still enures and it cannot be purportedly cut short on the alter of overzealousness of the prosecution to jump-start the trial of the case,” he told Justice Idris.
But in a ruling on Friday, Justice Idris dismissed the argument, holding that the request to stay proceedings pending the outcome of the re-listed appeal before the Supreme Court was against the provisions of Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
The judge also dismissed Onilenla’s objection to the appearance of the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Oluwafemi Olabisi.
Onilenla had argued that it was Mr. Festus Keyamo and not Olabisi, who was given the fiat by the EFCC to prosecute the case.
But in his ruling, Justice Idris said it was the EFCC that had the right to make such a complaint.
He subsequently fixed December 14 for the arraignment of the defendants.
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