Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday ( May 9) arraigned the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oloyeloogun, and two others, before the state High Court, in Akure, over alleged N2.4 million fraud in the Assembly.
Their arraignment followed the ruling by an Akure High Court that it has jurisdiction over the trial.
The three lawmakers and one civil servant were arraigned before Justice Adegboyega Adebusoye for the alleged fraud, sequel to the dismissal of the preliminary objection filed against their trial by the EFCC.
It was gathered that the N2.4 million was meant for a seminar which the lawmakers and the civil servant were meant to attend but didn’t attend .
Two others arraigned on a two-count charge of fraud, alongside the Speaker include the lawmaker representing Akoko South-West Constituency 2, Felemu Bankole and a civil servant, Segun Bankole.
They pleaded not guilty to the allegations. At the commencement of the trial, the EFCC counsel, Kingsley Kudus, asked the court to remand the defendants at the Olokuta Correctional Facility.
Counsel to the defendants, Femi Emodamore, in his presentation, urged the court to strike out the EFCC’s prayer for remand, arguing that the administrative bail application on the defendants was still active.
Emodamore said that the second defendant (Oleyelogun) was having health challenges that needed urgent medical attention.He asked the court to caution the nominal complainant (the former deputy speaker, Iroju Ogundeji) in the case for allegedly sending messages to the speaker in an attempt to annoy him.
In his ruling, Justice Adebusoye adjourned the case till May 18, for a proper hearing of the trial.
When the case came up for hearing in February 2023, the lawmakers argued that the EFCC lacked the power to prosecute offences affecting the finances and assets of the state as there exists a law enacted by the Assembly to tackle corruption allegations in the state.
The defendants in the preliminary objection filed to the EFCC charges by their counsel, Femi Emodamori asked the Court to decline jurisdiction and strike out the charges against them because the EFCC has no right to prosecute them as the assets they were facing trial for belonged to the state.
But former EFCC counsel, Fredrick Dibang, said that the court has jurisdiction because the law enacted by the state Assembly is contrary to the acts of the National Assembly that established the EFCC. Dibang noted that once there was a conflict between the law of a state and that of the National Assembly, the law of the state is suspended.
In his ruling, Justice Adebusoye put the state law in abeyance and held that the EFCC has the power to investigate and prosecute the lawmakers for the alleged fraud, which they were charged with.
Author: Maureen Ikpeama