Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Former Kwara finance commissioner arrested for N1.22 billion fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a former Commissioner for Finance in Kwara State, Ademola Banu, at the Federal High Court in Ilorin over alleged money laundering and misappropriation of state funds to the tune of N1.22 billion.

Mr Banu was arraigned before the judge, Evelyn Anyadike, on Monday, a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by EFCC’s spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Tuesday said.

The defendant was alleged to have, among other sundry offences, conspired to divert the said sum during the administration of then-Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed between May 2011 and May 2019 when he served as the Commissioner for Finance.

Mr Banu was to be arraigned alongside his principal, former Governor Abdulfatah, on 23 February 2024, but the scheduled hearing was stalled because he was not in court, prompting the judge to issue a warrant of arrest against Mr Banu.

The court, on the said date, took the plea of Mr Abdulfatah on the 12-count charge preferred against him and Mr Banu.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, the two defendants – Messrs Abdulfatah and Banu – listed as the first and second defendants in the charge, were present in court.

When the case was called, A. A. Ajibade, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), announced the appearance for Mr Abdulfatah, while Gboyega Oyewole, a SAN, for Mr Banu, and the prosecution team was led by Rotimi Jacobs, also a SAN.

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

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

In a bench ruling, the judge vacated the bench warrant on the second defendant, setting the stage for his arraignment.

Thereafter, Mr Banu pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

Following his plea, Mr Oyewole applied for his client’s bail. He prayed the court to grant the application on liberal terms, citing Mr Banu’s medical conditions.

But, the prosecution lawyer did not oppose the bail request given the earlier ruling.

Bail conditions

The judge granted the second defendant bail of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.

Ms Anyadike said the sureties must have landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.

She added that 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 N5 million must 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 passport with the court.

She said Mr Banu must not travel without the court’s permission but may apply for it on medical grounds.

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 25 and 26 June for trial.

Premium Times

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