Ex-Lagos Speaker’s ‘N673m Money Laundering’ Trial Reopens Dec 11

Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday fixed December 11 for the re-arraignment of a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in December 2011 dragged Ikuforiji and Atoyebi before the court on a 56-count charge of laundering N673 million.

But the then trial judge, Justice Okechuwku Okeke discharged both men of the allegations in 2015 on the ground that they had no case to answer.

However, the lower court’s verdict was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2018, the apex court had ordered that the trial should starts afresh before a new trial judge.

Based on the development, the case filed was reassigned to Justice Liman.

When the case was called on Wednesday, both Ikuforiji and Oyebode were not in court.

Their counsel, Tunde Akinrinmisi, informed the court that the defendants have not been served with a copy of the charge.

Akinrinmisi said he received a hearing notice as one of the lawyers who represented the defendants during the initial trial and it was out of “utmost respect for the court” that he came to court on Wednesday.

He prayed the judge to grant an adjournment for him to get in touch with the defendants.

But EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo maintained that the charge was served on the defendants when the trial started in 2011 some years ago.

Oyedepo, however, said he would “grudgingly concede to adjournment” because the case had suffered series of adjournments at the instance of the defendants.

Thereafter, Justice Liman adjourned the matter to December 11, for the defendants arraignment.

The former speaker and his aide were initially discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court in Lagos of 54 counts of money laundering to the tune of N673 million.

However, when the case was pursued to the Supreme Court on appeal by the EFCC, the Apex court in January 2018 ordered for a retrial by the Federal High Court.

In the charge dated June 4, 2013, the EFCC filed 56-counts against the former speaker and his aide.

It was filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos by Mary Onaja.

The anti-graft agency alleges that Ikuforiji and Atoyebi between April 2010 and August 2011 conspired to commit an illegal act, to wit, accepting various cash payments amounting to the sum of N673m from the Lagos State House of
Assembly without going through a financial institution, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section18(a) of the Money Laundering Act 2011

22nd October 2021
Nigerian Pantagraph
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