A former Senior Special Executive Assistant to former Oyo State governor Rashidi Ladoja on Thursday told the Federal High Court in Lagos how his former boss bribed lawmakers with 22 cars in 2005 to avoid being impeached.
Adewale Atanda, who appeared before Justice Mohammed Idris as a prosecution witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), stated that of the 22 cars, however, it was only 14 that the governor distributed because that was the number of lawmakers whose loyalty he was eventually able to secure out of the 22 he needed to stop his impeachment.
Mr. Atanda explained, “Oyo State has about 32 members of the House of Assembly and to successfully impeach the governor, it would require two-thirds majority support of the members of the House of Assembly. That will be about 22 members.”
The former Executive Assistant, who claimed to have met Ladoja in 2000 when he (Atanda) was vying for a senatorial seat, gave a detailed narration of how the administration of Ladoja ran into trouble just after he assumed the governorship.
“I don’t know exactly how it started but it appeared as if there was a rift between members of the Oyo State House of Assembly, on one hand, some political actors in the state, like Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu (late) and Senator Ladoja, and some other external influences from Abuja at the material time. Very many attempts were made to remove Senator Ladoja from office; various petitions were written, and at the end of the day an impeachment process was set in motion,” he said.
He further stated that in his discussions with Mr. Ladoja, he explained that it was important that his promises to bribe lawmakers to be kept. At the material time, it was rather impossible to buy these vehicles because they were not included in the budget for the year, so, we started looking for alternative ways to accommodate the request.”
Atanda said that in order to assist Ladoja as his political associate, he eventually obtained a loan of N80m from Wema Bank using his personal assets as collateral, but that despite the car gifts, Ladoja was impeached.
Following his ousting, Ladoja and his allies, including the 14 lawmakers loyal to him, fled and regrouped in Lagos, where Ladoja continued to take responsibility for the welfare of the fleeing lawmakers, who demanded to be paid a monthly income of N1m each after their salaries and allowances were stopped. He added that a team of lawyers was assembled to challenge the impeachment up to the Supreme Court.
Ladoja, alongside his former commissioner for Finance, Waheed Akanbi, are answering charges of fraud in the sum of about N4.7bn. The two men were arraigned by the EFCC before Justice Idris last December.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges, and in a bid to prove its case, the EFCC on Thursday brought Atanda in as its second witness.
Justice Idris adjourned till March 27, when Atanda will continue his testimony.