Alao-Akala’s N11.5 Billion Case: No Evidence Of Kickbacks From Contractors – Witness Tells Court

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A witness in an alleged N11.5 billion fraud suit against former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State, Mr Ayatudeen Ahmed, on Friday, said there was no document indicating that one of the defendants, Olufemi Babalola, received kickbacks from contractors.

Ahmed, who was part of the team that investigated the alleged fraud suit against the defendants, disclosed this on Friday while testifying before an Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan.

 Alao-Akala; a businessman, Femi Babalola; and a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hosea Agboola, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over an alleged N11.5 billion fraud.

The defendants are facing 11 counts bordering on conspiracy, fraud, award of contract without budgetary provision and acquiring property with money derived from illegal activities, among others.

Ahmed was being cross-examined by Akeem Afolabi (SAN), counsel for Alao-Akala and Babalola.

He told the court that he did not have any document indicating that the contractors, who constructed a five-kilometre road in each of the 33 local government areas in the state during Alao-Akala’s administration, paid kickbacks into Babalola’s company account.

The EFCC witness further said that none of the contractors ever complained that the Pentagon Engineering Consultant Firm, belonging to Babalola, was not entitled to the payment made to the firm.

Ahmed further admitted that Babalola, being a Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers, undertook different construction projects between the period of investigation and was, therefore, entitled to payment of the contracts done.

The witness, however, admitted that the sum of N269 million allegedly paid into Babalola’s company account on January 1, 2009 by Oyo State government was not captured in the statement of account tendered by EFCC.

Ahmed, who admitted that a memo and payment voucher should reflect who the beneficiary would be, said he was not aware of any memo or voucher by the state government in relation to N269 million payment.

"The witness, who was also cross-examined by Richard Ogunwole (SAN), counsel for Agboola, told the court that he did not know the concerned citizens who complained to EFCC about the alleged contract fraud.

Ahmed said he did not know whether the 5-kilometre road projects for the 33 LGAs in the state were completed or not because he was later transferred from the investigating team. He also said that he didn’t have anything to show that the contractors, who handled the road construction project, were not entitled to the payment made to them by the state government.

Ahmed further admitted that there was no complaint from the state government that the contractors, who were paid for the projects, deceived the government or that they never did the job.

Earlier, the witness, while being led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Dr Benedict Ubi, had informed the court that the companies that handled road projects received payment from the Joint State/Local Government Account (JAAC) between February 26, 2009 and March 3, 2009.

He said that those companies later made payments into Pentagon Engineering Consultant Firm, owned by Babalola, out of the money received from the state government.

Justice Muniru Owolabi adjourned the case till February 12.

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