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Appeal Court discharges Alao-Akala, two others on N11.5b corruption charges



The Court of Appeal, Ibadan, on Thursday, discharged and acquitted a former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, on the N11.5 billion corruption charges levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Alao-Akala was discharged and acquitted along with a former Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Hosea Agboola and a businessman, Femi Babalola.

Agboola is currently the Chairman of the Advisory Council to the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde.

He served as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters during Alao-Akala’s administration between 2007 and 2011, while Babalola owns Pentagon Engineering Services, the engineering firm that executed some contracts during the period.

The commission arraigned the three men on an 11-count charge of fraud at the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan, in 2012.

EFCC alleged that Alao-Akala awarded a road contract worth N8.5billion to Babalola’s firm, Pentagon Engineering Services between 2007 and 2009 when he was governor of Oyo State.

The commission insisted that the firm handled the contract on behalf of the 33 local government areas of the state without budgetary provision while the former governor ordered the supply of drilling machines on behalf of the LGAs at the cost of N3.5 billion.

The three defendants, however, filed a no-case submission after EFCC had closed its case before the court.

Justice Muniru Owolabi struck out eight out of the 11- count-charge and ordered Alao-Akala to enter his defence on the remaining three charges bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and award of contract without budgetary provision.

READ ASLO: Nobody’s ambition will supersede Oyo APC’s mandate —Alao-Akala

He, however, discharged the former governor on the charges of acquiring property with money derived from an illegal act and concealing ownership of such property.

The judge said the witnesses called by the prosecutor failed to link evidence to the acquired property, adding that EFCC also failed to prove genuine ownership of the property.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the three men approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling.

At Thursday’s proceeding, a three-man panel of the appellate court headed by Justice Jimi Bada set aside the ruling of the lower court.

Other members of the panel are – Justices Abba Muhammed and Abdulazeez Waziri.

The appellate court held that the lower court erred by ordering the defendants to enter defence for the three counts because the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

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