N503 million Fraud: Speaker of Lagos state House of Assembly asks court to quash case
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on Monday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to quash the 20-count of fraud and money laundering brought against them by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
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.
Misters Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were first arraigned before Justice John Tsoho on March 1, 2012. Justice Tsoho had unceremoniously withdrawn from the case, allegedly due to the attitude of counsel in the matter for his action.
The accused were later re-arraigned before Justice Okechukwu Okeke, following the re-assignment of the case to him by the Chief Judge of the Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta.
At the resumed hearing in the matter, the EFCC’s lawyer, Godwin Obla had told the court of the pendency of the charge and prayed the court for same to be read to the accused persons for their plea to be taken.
The charge was read to the accused persons, who pleaded not guilty to each of the count.
Counsel to the accused persons, Tayo Oyetibo urged the court to admit them to bail, on self recognition as Mr Ikuforiji is the third citizen in Lagos State while Mr Atoyebi is an aide to Speaker.
The anti-graft agency did not oppose the bail application, but urged the court to impose stiffer bail condition for Mr Atoyebi.
The court in a short ruling, granted bail to the Speaker on self recognition, while the Clerk of the Lagos Assembly, Segun Habiru stood as surety for Mr Atoyebi.
Mr Ikuforiji, meanwhile praying the court to quash the charge, argued that the act of the Lagos State House of Assembly being an arm of the government of Lagos State cannot be subjected to the criminal jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
He said that the Speaker of the state House of Assembly by virtue of Section 92(1) and 95(1) of the constitution is the presiding officer/principal officer of the House of Assembly.