The Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, has rejected the stay on application of Senator Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo state, to stall further proceedings on the N4.7 billion fraud case the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is seeking to re-open against him.
Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case to 14 December for the arraignment of the former governor. The former governor’s counsel, Mr. Bolaji Onilenla, argued that there is an appeal challenging the competence of the charge before the Supreme Court.
In his ruling, Justice Idris said an appeal before the Supreme Court cannot stall the proceedings of a criminal trial. He explained that the provision of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA) gives room for a trial to proceed even if there is an appeal before a higher court.
The judge also ruled against the applicant’s objection to the representation of Mr. Oluwafemi Olabisi, a lawyer in Festus Keyamo’s Chambers.
In the application, Mr. Onilenla said only Mr. Festus Keyamo can represent the EFCC, as he was the one given a fiat by the Attorney-General of the Federation. But Justice Idris said the fiat was given to Festus Keyamo Chambers, not to Mr. Keyamo as a person. As such, he added, anyone from the chambers can represent the EFCC in court.
Only the EFCC can insist that it should strictly be Mr. Keyamo that represents it in court, he explained.
The commission had approached the court to seek warrant for the arrest of Ladoja, following his absence in court for his re-arraignment last Friday.
Mr. Onilenla, however, pleaded with the court not to issue a warrant for his client’s arrest, stating that his client was not properly informed.
Senator Ladoja appeared before the court on Friday alongside his former aide, Chief Waheed Akanbi.
The duo were first arraigned in 2008 and had proceeded to appeal the competence of their charge up to the highest court.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as lacking in competence. Ladoja filed an application to re-list the appeal at the Supreme Court on 27 October, 2016.