EFCC Arraigns Kwara’s Ex-Finance Commissioner For N1.22bn Fraud

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The Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, arraigned a former commissioner for finance in Kwara State, Ademola Banu, before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, over alleged money laundering and misappropriation of state funds to the tune of N1.22bn.

The defendant was alleged to have among sundry issues, conspired to divert the said sum during the administration of governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, between May 2011 and May 2019, when he served as the commissioner for finance.

In a press statement by the commission’s Head, Media & Publicity, Dele Oyewale, on Monday, said Banu was to be arraigned alongside his principal, former governor Abdulfatah on February 23, 2024, but when the case came up, he was absent in court and had no legal representation, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant against him upon the application by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.

The court, on the said date, took the plea of the former governor Abdulfatah on the 12-count charge preferred against him and his finance commissioner by the EFCC and adjourned till Monday, April 29, 2024, while ordering the prosecution to produce Banu for trial.

At the resumed sitting on Monday, the two defendants – Abdulfatah Ahmed and Ademola Banu, who were listed as the first and second defendants in the charge, were present in court.

When the case was called, A. A. Ajibade, SAN announced the appearance for Abdulfatah, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN for Banu, while the prosecution team was led by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.

Jacobs informed the court that the second defendant who was unavailable at the last sitting when his co-traveler, Abdulfatah was arraigned, was finally in court to take his plea.

“My Lord, at the last adjournment, the first defendant (governor Abdulfatah) took his plea, but the second defendant (Banu) was not available in court that day, causing your lordship to issue a bench warrant against him,” he said.

“Following the order of the court, counsel to the second defendant called me and explained that he would produce his client before the court today, which he has done. I pray the court to allow the charge to be read to him.”

In response, Banu’s counsel, Oyewole prayed the court to discharge the bench warrant earlier issued against his client, which Jacobs did not oppose.

In a short ruling, Justice Anyadike vacated the bench warrant on the second defendant, setting the stage for his arraignment. He was, therefore, ordered to enter the dock to take his plea.

Count three of the charge reads:

“That you, ABDULFATAH AHMED (while being the Governor of Kwara State) and ADEMOLA BANU (while being the Commissioner of Finance of Kwara State), between January and December 2018 in Ilorin, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired between yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N411,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Eleven Million Naira) property of Kwara State Government meant for the provision of security in Kwara State, which sum you reasonably ought to have known was a proceed of an unlawful act, to wit; theft/fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

Following his plea, Oyewole, SAN, moved a motion for the bail of his client. He prayed the court to grant the application on liberal terms citing the medical conditions of the client as reasons.

Jacobs, however, did not oppose the application given the earlier ruling.

Justice Anyadike admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N20m with two sureties in like sum, who must have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. The sureties must deposit three passport photographs with the court’s registrar. The sureties must also produce evidence of payment of electricity bills for the last three months.

Furthermore, the judge ordered that the sum of N5m be paid as a bond into the litigation account of the Federal High Court by the defendant, which will be returned to him after the final determination of the case, but forfeited to the Federal Government in the event the defendant jumps bail.

The judge also ordered the defendant to deposit his international passport with the court, adding that the defendant must not travel without the permission of the court, but may apply to get it on medical grounds if the need arises.  Thereafter, the judge ordered the defendant to be remanded in the custody of the EFCC pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

The case has been adjourned to June 25 and 26, 2024 for trial.

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