On Monday, the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Ademola Banu, a former commissioner for Finance in Kwara State, before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin, for alleged money laundering and misappropriation of state funds worth N1.22 billion.

The defendant was accused to have, among other things, conspired to siphon the abovementioned sum under the administration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed between May 2011 and May 2019 when he was the Commissioner for Finance.

Banu was to be arraigned alongside his former principal, former Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed on February 23, 2024, but when the case came up, he was absent in court and had no legal representation, prompting the court to issue a bench warrant against him upon the application by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

The court on the said date took the plea of the former Governor Ahmed on the 12-count charge preferred against him and his finance commissioner by the EFCC and adjourned till Monday, April 29, 2024, while ordering the prosecution to produce Banu for trial.

At the resumed sitting on Monday, the two defendants – Abdulfatah Ahmed and Ademola Banu, who were listed as first and second defendants, were present in court.

When the case was called, A. A. Ajibade, SAN announced appearance for Ahmed, Gboyega Oyewole (SAN) appeared for Banu, while the prosecution team was led by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

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

“My Lord, at the last adjournment, the first defendant (Governor Abdulfatah) took his plea, but the second defendant (Banu) was not available in court that day, causing your Lordship to issue a bench warrant against him.

“Following the order of the court, counsel to the second defendant called me and explained that he would produce his client before the court today (Monday), which he has done. I pray the court to allow the charge to be read to him,” Jacobs said.

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

In a short ruling, Justice Anyadike vacated the bench warrant against the second defendant, setting the stage for his arraignment. Therefore, he was ordered to enter the dock to take his plea.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

Following his plea, his counsel, Oyewole, moved a motion for the bail of his client.

He prayed the court to grant the application on liberal terms, citing the medical conditions of the client as reasons.

Jacobs, however, did not oppose the application in view of the earlier ruling.

Justice Anyadike admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N20m with two sureties in like sum, who must have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge ordered that the sum of N5m must be paid as 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 or forfeited to the federal government in the event the defendant jump bail.

The judge also ordered the defendant to deposit his international passport with the court, adding that the defendant must not travel without the permission of the court, but may apply to get it on medical reasons if the need arise.

Thereafter, the judge ordered the defendant to be remanded in the custody of the EFCC pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

The case was eventually adjourned to June 25 and 26, 2024, for trial.





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