Account of court proceedings as Kwara ex-Gov. Ahmed is docked for N10bn fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned the immediate past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, for N10 billion fraud.

Ahmed allegedly spent an aggregate sum of N1,610,730,500 to charter private jets for local travels.

The former governor was on Friday, February 23, 2024 brought before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court sitting in Ilorin.

Ahmed was arraigned on a 12-count charge bordering on alleged mismanagement of public funds to the tune of N10 billion.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you, ABDULFATAH AHMED (while being the Governor of Kwara State) between 2015 and 2019 in Ilorin within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court used an aggregate sum of N1,610,730,500 property of Kwara State Government, meant for the security and running cost of the Government of Kwara State to charter private jets through Travel Messengers Limited on different occasions for your local travels and which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of your unlawful act, to wit: Criminal Breach of Trust or Theft and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”.

Count three of the charges reads: “That you, ABDULFATAH AHMED (while being the Governor of Kwara State) and ADEMOLA BANU (while being the Commissioner for Finance of Kwara State), between January and December 2018 in Ilorin, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired between yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: Conversion of the sum of N411,000,000 property of Kwara State Government meant for the provision of security in Kwara State, which sum you reasonably ought to have known was a proceed of an unlawful act, to wit; theft/fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act”.

The former governor was charged alongside his commissioner for finance, Ademola Banu, who neither appeared in court nor had legal representation when the case was called.

Banu, who was listed as the second defendant on the charge sheet is facing a 10-count charge also bordering on mismanagement of public funds while he served under Ahmed’s administration as commissioner for finance.

When the matter was called, EFCC’s lead counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) informed the court that Banu jumped an administrative bail granted him by the EFCC and efforts to arrest him had proved abortive.

Jacobs urged the court to rely on Section 83 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to issue a summons against his surety, Salami Bashiru Ola and/or warrant of arrest against the second defendant (Banu).

The defence led by Kehinde Eleja (SAN) did not put any defence in favour of the second defendant as he said that his appearance was for the first defendant.

EFCC grills ex-Kwara Governor Ahmed

In a short ruling, Justice Anyadike issued a bench warrant against Banu.

Thereafter, the court took the plea of the first defendant on each count.

When the charges were read to him, he pleaded not guilty.

Upon his plea, Jacobs urged the court to fix a date for trial, but Eleja through an oral application prayed the court to admit his client to bail. Citing Section 162 of the ACJA, the defence counsel said all the counts against the defendant are bailable. Therefore, he prayed the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant

Jacobs in response, opposed the bail application by the defence, but conceded the fact that bail is at the discretion of the court.

After listening to the arguments and counter-arguments of both counsels, Justice Anyadike admitted the first defendant to bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.

According to the judge, the sureties must deposit their passports with the court’s registrar.

One of the sureties must have a landed property in Ilorin with the title documents of the property deposited with the Registrar of the Federal High Court. The sureties must also produce evidence of payment of electricity bills for the last three years.

In addition to the listed conditions, the judge ordered that the sum of N50 million must be paid as bond into the litigation account of the Federal High Court, which will be returned to the sureties after the final determination of the case, but forfeited to the Federal Government in the event the defendant jump bail.

Source: The Star

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