A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday heard that former Governor Oyo State Governor Rashidi Ladoja did not buy any vehicle for 14 lawmakers loyal to him in 2005 to escape impeachment.
A former Oyo State House of Assembly Deputy Speaker Titilola Ademola Dauda told Justice Mohammed Idris that the vehicles were the products of a contractual relationship they had with a firm, VT Leasing.
Dauda testified as the first defence witness in the ongoing trial of the ex-governor and one of his former aides, Waheed Akanbi, for alleged fraud of N4.7 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said: “I had a contractual relationship with VT Leasing, an incorporated company, on a car supplied to me. The agreement was that I should pay a particular percentage upfront and thereafter on rentals.
“I entered into agreement with VT Leasing. I paid both my contribution and rentals. I am not owing VT Leasing. No member of the Assembly was given any vehicle. Each of the 14 members benefitted from the VT Leasing arrangement.”
The witness faulted claims by a prosecution witness, Chief Adewale Atanda, that the vehicles were bought for them by Ladoja to save him from impeachment.
Atanda, who was a Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to Ladoja, told the court that he used his assets and personal guarantee to secure an N80 million loan from Wema Bank Plc to buy the vehicles.
But Dauda said the agreement that led to the delivery of the vehicles to him and 13 others was not guaranteed by Atanda.
The witness averred that he personally paid all his expenses in his four-month stay at Heritage Court and Inns, a hotel owned by Atanda, after he relocated to Lagos with his colleagues for fear of being killed, if Ladoja was impeached in December 2005.
Responding to a question during cross-examination by EFCC’s lawyer Olabisi Oluwafemi, the witness denied receiving any money from Atanda throughout his stay in the hotel.
A stockbroker, Tajudeen Ajani Bayonle, also testified during yesterday’s proceedings.
The witness, who told the court that he was not familiar with the facts of the matter, said he was invited by one of the defence lawyers because of his technical knowledge of stockbroking business.
Further hearing in the trial continues today.
Ladoja and his co-defendant opened their defence, following the dismissal of their “no case” submissions by the judge.
They were, for the second time in about two years, re-arraigned on November 5 by the EFCC on an 11-count charge of N4.7 billion money laundering and unlawful conversion of public funds.
They pleaded not guilty.
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