The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday applied for a warrant of arrest to pick former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja over involvement in a N4.7bn fraud during his tenure as the chief helmsman of the state.
EFCC said the request was necessary because the former governor wanted to frustrate his trial.
A counsel for the anti-graft agency, Mr. Oluwafemi Olabisi, made the application on Friday following absence of Ladoja in court.
Ladoja was scheduled to be re-arraigned before the high court on Thursday but for his absence for his proposed re-arraignment.
But Ladoja’s lawyer, Mr. Bolaji Onilenla, who said he was the one who instructed Ladoja to stay away from court on Friday, urged Justice Idris not to issue a warrant for the arrest of his client.
Onilenla argued that besides the fact that Ladoja had not been properly informed of the re-opening of the case, his appeal against the charges at the Supreme Court was still pending.
Ladoja was first arraigned in 2008 alongside Waheed Akanbi, had since proceeded on appeal up to the Supreme Court to challenge the charges against him.
He also obtained an order to stay further proceedings in the case pending the outcome of the appeal.
But the Supreme Court on April 15, 2015 dismissed Ladoja’s appeal for being incompetent, pursuant to the provisions of Order 6 Rule 3(2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1999.
However, Ladoja, who contended that he was not heard at all before the appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court, had, on October 27, 2016 filed an application seeking to re-list the appeal at the apex court.
At the Friday’s proceedings before Justice Idris, the EFCC lawyer, Olabisi, told the court that the anti-graft agency was ready to re-arraign Ladoja, as it had since October 31, 2016 filed an application to that effect.
But Ladoja’s lawyer, Onilenla, said his client had filed a counter-affidavit in opposition to the EFCC’s application to re-arraign him.
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.
He said, “What we are saying in effect, my lord, is that our right of appeal still endures and it cannot be purportedly cut short on the altar of over-zealousness of the prosecution to jump-start the trial of the case.”