New Telegraph

N11.5bn fraud: Appeal Court discharges, acquits Alao-Akala, two others

The Federal Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, yesterday, discharged and acquitted a former governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, over the N11.5 billion corruption charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial crimes commission (EFCC).

The appellate court also discharged and acquitted former Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Hosea Agboola, who is currently the Chairman of Governor’s Advisory Council to Governor Seyi Makinde, and a business mogul, Mr. Femi Babalola, popularly known as Jogor. Agboola had served as CommissionerforLocalGovernment and Chieftaincy Matters during Alao-Akala tenure as governor between 2007 and 2011, while Femi Babalola owns an engineering firm, Pentagon Engineering Services, which executed some contracts during the former governor’s tenure.

The case had dragged for 11 years and the appellants were yesterday present before the three-man panel led by Justice Jimi Olukayode Bada. Other Justices included Abba Muhammed and Abdulazeez Waziri. Alao-Akala, Ayoola and Babalola had been arraigned by EFCC before an Oyo State High Court, over an alleged N11.5 billion fraud. The 11 count-charge preferred against the them included “conspiracy, awarding contract without budgetary provision, obtaining by false pretence, acquiring property with money derived from illegal act and concealing the ownership of such property, among others”. Counsel to the EFCC, Dr. Benedict Ubi, had told the lower court that when Alao- Akala was the governor of Oyo State, he awarded a road contract worth N8.5 billion between 2007 and 2009 to Pentagon Engineering Services, alleging that the firm handled the contract on behalf of the 33 local governments areasof thestatewithoutbudgetary provision.

Alao-Akala was also alleged to have ordered the supply of drilling machines on behalf of the 33 local government areas worth N3.5 billion, and that he purportedly conspired with Ayoola to withdraw N2.9 billion from Oyo State Local Government Joint Account.

Ubi also told the court that Alao-Akala illegally acquired a property at Old Bodija, Off Rotimi Williams Avenue, in Ibadan, when he was governor, saying the alleged offences contravened “Section 22 (4) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and Section 1 (18) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act”. Represented by Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the defendantsfiledano-casesubmissionaftertheEFCCclosed its case before the high court

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