An ex-aide to former Oyo State Governor, Rashidi Ladoja, on Thursday told a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court that his former boss allegedly bribed the state’s lawmakers with 22 vehicles to avoid impeachment.
Adewale Atanda, a former Senior Executive Assistant to Mr. Ladoja, who was appearing as a witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said the incident happened in 2005.
The EFCC had re-arraigned Mr. Ladoja and Wahab Akanbi, the finance commissioner during his administration, last December, over an alleged N4.7 billion money laundering offence.
They had pleaded not guilty to all the eight-count charges.
The re-arraignment occurred eight years after the former governor was first charged.
According to Mr. Atanda, a lawyer, 14 out of the 22 cars were eventually given out to the lawmakers who declared their loyalty for the then governor.
Mr. Ladoja had needed 22 lawmakers out of the 32 to avoid impeachment.
Led in evidence by Oluwafemi Olabisi, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Atanda said he met Mr. Ladoja in 2000 when the latter was contesting for a senatorial seat in the state, adding that he ran into trouble after he became governor.
“I don’t know exactly how it started but it appeared as if there was a rift between members of the Oyo State House of Assembly on one hand, some political actors in the state like the late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and Senator Ladoja, and some external influences from Abuja at the material time,” said Mr. Atanda.
“Very many attempts were made to remove Senator Ladoja from office, various petitions were written and at the end of the day an impeachment process was set in motion.
“Oyo State has about 32 members of the House of Assembly and to successfully impeach the governor, it would require two-thirds majority support of the members of the House of Assembly. That will be about 22 members.”
To secure the loyalty of those 22 members, Mr. Atanda continued, several promises including that of buying new vehicles were made to the lawmakers.
“In the course of all these, I had discussions with Senator Ladoja and explained to him that it was important that these promises be kept,” the witness said.
“At the material time, it was rather impossible to buy these vehicles because they were not included in the budget for the year. So we started looking for alternative ways to accommodate the request.”
In the end, an N80 million loan was secured from Wema Bank with Mr. Atanda’s personal asset as collateral, the witness continued.
“The vehicles were bought and collected from the various dealers by the drivers of the Oyo State government and delivered to the Government House in Ibadan.
“In spite of this, I think, by December 2005, the governor was impeached from office.”
After Mr. Ladoja’s impeachment, Mr. Atanda said the former governor and his allies, including the 14 lawmakers loyal to him, fled and regrouped in Lagos where their principal continued taking responsibility for their welfare.
He also said that the lawmakers demanded for a monthly income of N1 million each from Mr. Ladoja after their salaries and allowances were stopped by the Oyo State government.
Mr. Atanda added that the former governor hired a team of lawyers who demanded a fee of N370 million to challenge the impeachment up to the Supreme Court.
The impeachment was later quashed by the court.
The judge adjourned till March 27 for continuation of trial.
Credit: Premium Times