Notwithstanding his new romance with the ruling party, it’s not yet Uhuru for former Oyo State governor, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala who recently dumped his former party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for All Progressive Party (APC) as Nigeria anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re-arraigned him and two others in Ibadan over alleged N11. 5 billion fraud.
The other defendants are a former Oyo State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Sen. Hosea Agboola, and an Ibadan-based businessman, Femi Babalola.
The defendants were facing an eleven-count charge of conspiracy, awarding a contract without budgetary provision, obtaining money by false pretence, acquiring property with money derived from the illegal acts and concealing ownership of such property, among others.
EFCC’s counsel, Dr B. Ubi, told the 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.
Ubi alleged that the firm owned by Babalola handled the contract on behalf of the 33 local governments without budgetary provision.
The counsel further claimed that Alao-Akala ordered the supply of drilling machines on behalf of the 33 local governments in the state to the tune of N3.5 billion.
He also alleged that Alao-Akala conspired with Ayoola to withdraw N2.9 billion from Oyo State Local Government Joint Account.
The prosecutor told the court that Alao-Akala also illegally acquired some property on Old Bodija road, off Rotimi Williams Road, when he was the governor of the state.
He said that the offences contravened Section 22 (4) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act and Section 1 (18) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr. Hakeem Afolabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and counsel to Alao-Akala and Babaloa prayed the court to exercise its discretion in granting bail to the defendants.
Afolabi said that the charge before the court was not a fresh one but a re-arraignment.
He said the matter was first filed on Oct. 11, 2011, before Justice Moshood Abas and bail was granted after the defendants met the conditions.
It would be recalled that the defendants had also appeared before Justice Akintunde Boade and Justice Bayo Taiwo who was recently transferred out of Ibadan Division.
Afolabi argued that Alao-Akala was granted bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties in like sum while the other defendants were granted bail in the sum of N3 million each with two sureties in like sum.
Afolabi urged the court to allow the defendants to enjoy the earlier bail condition granted to the defendants.
Mr Richard Ogunwole, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria and counsel to Ayoola, aligned with the submission of Alao-Akala’s counsel.
The EFCC counsel said he would not oppose the bail applications.
Justice Muniru Owolabi granted the defendants’ prayers and adjourned the case till April 16 for trial.