Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Court begins hearing fraud case against ODHA speaker, others



An Akure High Court will today, Monday and tomorrow, Tuesday begin adjudication of alleged fraud levelled against the Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oleyeloogun and two others as well as a civil servant.

The court had fixed tomorrow and Tuesday but because tomorrow is a public holiday, the trial will commence on Tuesday, April 25th, 2023.

The three lawmakers were alleged to have fraudulently spent funds of the Assembly.

Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye had in February told the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oleyeloogun and the two others that they had a case to answer over an alleged fraud involving the fund of the Assembly.

The lawmakers and one civil servant, will on Tuesday be arraigned before Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye of an Akure High Court for alleged fraud sequel to the dismissal of preliminary objection filed against their trial by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had dragged the Speaker, Oleyelogun, a lawmaker, Felemu-Gudu Bankole and a civil servant, Segun Oyadeyi Bankole to court for alleged misappropriation of 2.4million naira belonging to the State Assembly. The fund was meant for a seminar, which the lawmakers and the civil servant were meant to attend.

However, when the case came up for hearing, the lawmakers said the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute offences affecting the finances and assets of the state as there exist a law enacted by the Assembly to tackle corruption allegation in the state.

The defendants in the preliminary objection filed to the EFCC charges by their counsel, Mr Femi Emodamori asked the Court to decline Jurisdiction and strike out the charges against them because the EFCC has no right to prosecute them as the assets they were facing trial for belonged to the state.

Emodamori said the EFCC has no right to prosecute the defendants for alleged corruption in view of the State Public Complaint Financial Crimes and Anti Corruption Commission Law passed into law and signed by Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu in January, 2022.

However, the Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Fredrick Dibang said the court has jurisdiction because the State law enacted by state Assembly is contrary to the acts of the National Assembly that establish EFCC and once there is conflict between the law of a state and that of the National Assembly, the law of the state is suspended.

Dibang said the Assembly passed the law with the intention of frustrating the trial of the lawmakers and the civil servant for the alleged abuse of office and corruption.

In his ruling, Justice Adebusoye put the state law in abeyance and held that the EFCC has power to investigate and prosecute the lawmakers for the alleged fraud, which they were charged with.

The judge said “the offences being against the defendants are not state offences promulgated by the state legislation but a federal offence, having been promulgated by the national assembly, though relates to finances of Ondo state.

“Without wasting the time of this court, it settles that the complainant is empowered to investigate and prosecute the three defendants on the two counts charge as stated in the information file, being federal offences and even though the alleged ones involved belong to the Ondo state government.”

Justice Adebusoye dismissed the preliminary objection as filed by the defendants and assumed jurisdiction to adjudicate on this matter, which is slated for April 24 and 25, 2023.