N1.5 Billion Scam:Court Remands Ikuforiji’s Personal Assistant In EFCC Custody

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Justice D.O Oluwayemi of the High Court of Lagos State,  sitting in Igbosere, on January 10, 2013 revoked the bail granted the Personal Assistant to Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Oyebode Atoyebi,  by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Phillips and ordered that he be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The remand order followed the delay in the arraignment of Atoyebi and two others arrested by the EFCC over a N1.5billion scam.

The EFCC on Thursday January 10, presented the trio of Mr Olayinka Sanni, a former manager with Intercontinental Bank Plc (now Access Bank), Mr.  Oyebode Atoyebi and a company, Sidaw Ventures before Justice Oluwayemi for arraignment on an eight count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and forgery amounting to about N1.5billion. However, the arraignment was deferred owing to the denial of ownership of Sidaw Ventures by both the 1st (Olayinka Sanni) and 2nd (Oyebode Atoyebi) defendants.

EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the denial of ownership of Sidaw ventures by the two defendants should be looked into because it was the instrument used by them to steal the money necessitating their arraignment. Oyedepo drew the attention of the court to the fact that the photograph and telephone number of the 1st defendant was on the mandate of the account of Sidaw ventures.

Abiodun Onidare, counsel to the 2nd defendant, objected to the issue raised by the EFCC counsel saying that it was premature. He submitted that the defendants should be arraigned, in spite of the denial of the ownership of Sidaw ventures. Justice Oluwayemi, however, prevailed on the EFCC counsel to choose between arraigning of the defendants and resolving the preliminary objection. The EFCC opted for the resolution of the preliminary objection.
Onidare then went ahead to present his application of preliminary objection basing his argument on Section 167 and 340 (3) of the criminal procedure Law of Lagos State 2003, Section 151 and Section 152 (1) and  (2) of the Criminal Procedure Laws of Lagos State and Section 6(6) & 36 (5) & (6) (B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

He argued that charges proposed against the 2nd defendant; especially counts 1, 2 and 3 are incompetent, defective, null and void and that the amended charges are equally incompetent, defective, null and void. Besides, he argued that the court lacked “jurisdiction to arraign or take the plea of the 2nd defendant and to hear the amended charge or any pending charge” He also prayed the court to quash the amended charge or any pending charge and discharge the 2nd defendant forthwith”

Oyedepo objected to the preliminary objection application saying that “the application is misconceived and that there are obvious contradictions in the affidavit. Your lordship will observe that in their preliminary objection, they alleged that prosecution did not have the fiat to prosecute stealing in Lagos State”.

Onidare, in his response, asked Oyedepo to present his objection in writing.

Justice Oluwayemi granted Onidare’s submission but revoked an earlier bail granted Atoyebi. She adjourned the case till January 25, 2013 and ordered that Atoyebi be remanded in EFCC custody. Sanni is till being held by the EFCC over investigations into other cases involving him.

It would be recalled that the trio of  Olayinka Sanni,  Oyebode Atoyebi and Sidaw ventures were recently arrested over a case
of conspiracy, stealing and forgery amounting to about N1.5billion.
Sanni, a chartered accountant and operator of Sidaw Ventures, a bureau de change, was alleged to have fraudulently transferred various sums
of money from more than seven customers of the former Intercontinental Bank into the account of Sidaw ventures owned and operated by him
without the customers’ consent.
Oyebode Atoyebi, Personal Assistant to Ikuforiji was also arrested for allowing his passport-sized photograph and name to be used to open an account in Sidaw ventures limited in the name of Akanmu Babatunde. With this fictitious name,  Sanni brokered many shady deals and duped many innocent people.

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