EFCC Presents First Witness Against Lagos Speaker, Ikuforiji

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Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, Lagos has fixed November 6, 7 and 8, 2012 for continuation of trial in the case instituted against the Speaker Of The Lagos State House Of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his personal assistant, Oyebode Alade Atoyebi by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, the EFCC presented its first witness, Adebayo Adeniyi, an operative of the Commission.  Adeniyi told the court that in the course of investigation, he demanded for documents from the Clerk of the House of Assembly and took statements from several members of the State House of Assembly and civil servants.

Among the members whose statements were taken and tendered are Bolaji Yusuf Ayinla, Kolawole Taiwo Musibau, Abiru Rotimi, Akande Lola and Abdurrazak Balogun. The civil servants whose statements were taken and admitted include Adewale Taiwo Olatunji, Olusegun Abiru, Latona Folashade, Tijani Maruf and a few others.  In all, 19 documents were tendered and admitted by Justice Okeke as exhibits.

Ikuforiji and his personal assistant were on March 1, 2012 arraigned on a 20 count charge of allegedly conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273,303,780 (Two hundred and seventy three million, three hundred and three thousand, seven hundred and eighty naira) from the Lagos State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution, thereby committing an offence contrary to sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under sections 16(2) (b) of the same act.

Upon being granted bail by the court, Ikuforiji and his aide later approached the court seeking to quash the charge against them on the grounds that the purported transactions in which the said cash payments were made were official transactions. He contended that as speaker, he was part of the Lagos State government and that action which informed the charge was carried out on behalf of the Lagos State government.

Prosecution counsel, Godwin Obla, asked the court to dismiss the application of the accused persons. He told the court that there were monetary guidelines regarding cash transactions which were breached in totality. He said such cash transactions were species of money laundering. He urged the court not to be tempted to dismiss the charge citing a recent case where a former governor was discharged and acquitted of money laundering by a Federal High Court only for the same person to be convicted by a court in the United Kingdom. He also said objection to the charge should have been done before the accused persons took their plea.

Justice Okeke in his ruling dismissed the application filed by the defendants on the grounds that the reason advanced in support of their application was untenable.



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