The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, June 24, 2013 re-arraigned Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji alongside his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi on a 54-count amended charge before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants had sometime between April 2010 and July 2011 conspired and accepted various cash payments amounting to N503 million from the House without going through a financial institution.
Ikuforiji and his aide were initially charged before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in December 2011, but the judge later opted out of the case. They were re-arraigned before Justice Okechukwu Okeke who retired in May 2013 necessitating their re-arraignment before Justice Buba.
When the matter came up on Monday, counsel to EFCC, Godwin Obla informed the court that the matter was for re-arraignment. He sought the leave of court to invite the two accused persons to the dock to take their plea. The charges were then read to them and they pleaded not guilty.
After taking their pleas, counsel to the first defendant, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, and Tunde Akinrimisi who appeared for the second defendant told the court that they have submitted bail applications on behalf of their clients. Oyetibo said the first defendant presented himself for trial before the case was re-assigned and so he assured the court that the defendant will also be present before the new Judge for all proceedings in the case. He urged the court to retain the previous bail granted by the former Judge.
Obla told the court that he was not opposing the bail applications. He said the discretion to grant bail or not resided with the court but he urged the court to ensure that the defendants appear for trial.
In his ruling, Justice Buba admitted the first and second defendants to bail in the sum of N5billion and two sureties in like sum. He said the sureties should produce before the court’s registrar a sworn affidavit of means. The defendants were also ordered to sign an undertaking before the court that they will be present for trial and that they will avoid any move that will delay the trial.
After the ruling, counsel to the two defendants in separate appeals however asked the court for a variation of the bail term. They said it will be difficult for the defendants to meet the N5billion and two sureties bail conditions. Oyetibo said the defendants are public servants who will find it difficult to meet the terms. Justice Buba subsequently varied the bail conditions and admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N1billion.
He adjourned the case till September 25, 26 and 27, 2013 for commencement of trial.
Count One of the charge read:
“That you Rt. Honourable Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji, and Oyebode Alade Atoyebi sometime between April 2010 and July 2011, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire among yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit accepting various cash payments amounting in the aggregate to the sum of N 338, 801, 442 ( Three Hundred and thirty-eight Million, Eight Hundred and One Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty-Two Naira) only from the Lagos State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution and thereby committed and offence contrary to Sections 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act”.