Alleged N338.8m Money Laundering: Trial Of Ex-Lagos Speaker Ikuforiji, Aide Resumes

Former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, attends his trial over allegations of money laundering at the Federal High Court in Lagos on November 25, 2020.

 

The re-trial of the former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, on allegations of laundering N338.8 million continued on Wednesday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ekene Iheanacho, continued with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Adebayo Adeniyi, who is an investigative officer with the agency.

Adeniyi told the court that some cash account registers of some banks which had been admitted in exhibit were recovered from the Lagos State House of Assembly.

According to him, they showed that the second defendant, Atoyebi, collected money several times, above the financial threshold allowed by the Money Laundering Act.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Dele Adesina, the witness told the court that the former speaker did not collect the cash directly from the Treasury Department of the House, but had admitted during an investigation that all the money collected by Oyebode was done on his behalf and with his approval.

At the instance of the defence counsel, Justice Mohammed Liman adjourned until December 9, for the continuation of the cross-examination.

The retrial of the former speaker and his aide commenced on September 30 and they both pleaded not guilty to the allegations of laundering about N338 million.

Justice Mohammed Liman then allowed both men to continue on an earlier bail granted to them in 2012 when they were first arraigned.

The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012, before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on 20 charges bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Following a re-assignment of the case, the defendants were subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

Justice Buba granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with sureties in like sum.

He later discharged the defendants on September 26, 2014, after upholding their “no case submission applications”.

The judge had held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC filed a Notice of Appeal dated September 30, 2014, to challenge the decision of the trial court.

It argued that the trial court erred in law when it held that the counts were incompetent because they were filed under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which was repealed by an Act of 2011.

The anti-graft agency added that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011, only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies other than the Government.

It also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.

In its judgement in November 2016, the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court agreed with the EFCC and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants before another judge.

Following the decision of the appeal court, the defendants headed to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the ruling of the appellate court.

In its verdict in December 2017, the apex court upheld the decision of the appellate court and ordered that the case be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.

This necessitated the current re-arraignment and re-trial before Justice Liman.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Adjourns Ikuforiji’s Case To September 30

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned the trial of a former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji to September 30.

Ikuforiji and his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi are standing trial on the allegations of laundering N338.8m.

The duo are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 54-count charge.

They, however, pleaded not guilty before Justice Mohammed Liman and were allowed to continue on the bail terms earlier granted them by the previous trial judge.

Without coming out of his chambers, Justice Mohammed Liman ordered the Court Registrar to tell parties in the case that “in view of the directive of the Chief Judge that new trials should not be opened especially because of the impending transfer of judges, the case is adjourned till after vacation”.

The registrar then announced Sept 30 as the next adjourned date.

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EFCC Counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, immediately raised a complaint saying that the annual vacation is expected to start in July and the Court could give any date before then but the registrar insisted that this was the directive of the judge.

There are indications that the transfer of judges will be done just before Easter to enable those affected to resume at their new post after the public holiday.

The transfer of this case by Justice Liman also appears to be in clear contravention of the provisions of Section 396 subsection 3 and 4 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which says upon arraignment, the trial of a defendant shall proceed from day to day and where impracticable, no party shall be entitled to an adjournment which shall not exceed 14 working days.

Jimi Agbaje Wins Lagos PDP Governorship Primaries

Jimi AgbajeMr Jimi Agbaje has won the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, defeating a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.

The result was announced at about 11:20pm local time on Monday.

While counting was going on, there was an uproar, as some persons tried to grab the ballot box, Channels Television’s political correspondent, Seun Okinbaloye reported.

It is one of the last results that were released in the governorship primary elections held across Nigeria.

Mr Agbaje’s victory came after there were reported discrepancies between the number of delegates and the number of ballots counted.

While 806 delegates were recorded, 863 ballots were counted at the end of the election, a development that caused a disagreement.

Mr Jimi Agbaje is a pharmacist by training from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

He served in many health management capacities in his early years as a pharmacist in Lagos State, and is the Managing Director of Jaykay Pharmaceutical & Chemical Company Ltd.

Ambode Emerges Lagos APC Governorship Candidate

AmbodeMr Akinwunmi Ambode, has won the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship primaries in Lagos State.

The Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Public Administrator, Mr. Ambode clinched 3,735 votes to beat 11 other aspirants to win the APC ticket.

The election, which ended in the early hours of Friday, saw Ambode defeating other candidates; Supo Shashore, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Tola Kasali, Obafemi Hamzat, Ganiyu Solomon, Lanre Ope, Tokunbo Wahab, Adekunle Disu, Abayomi Sutton, Tokunbo Agbesanwa and Leke Pitan.

Governorship candidates have also emerged for the All Progressives Congress, APC, across the country as the opposition party gears up to contest for the 2015 election.

Some of those who picked their party’s ticket in other states are the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State), a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna State); and second-term-seeking governors, Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State), Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara State) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State).

Elsewhere, Mr. Dakuku Peterside picked the Rivers State APC ticket; Olorogun O’tega Emerhor won in Delta State, Okey Ezea in Enugu and Mr Umana Umana in Akwa Ibom State.

2015 Lagos Governorship: Speaker Ikuforiji Declares

IkuforijiThe Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has officially made public, his intention to run for 2015 Lagos governorship election.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant said that if elected, job creation and poverty alleviation would form part of his ten-point cardinal agenda.

He was speaking at De Blue Roof, Alausa Ikeja, venue of his official declaration of his intention to run for the state governorship.

“I offer myself as a candidate with a clear vision of a greater Lagos and a commitment to leading the state on a new journey which will consolidate the gains of the past.”

He also promised to make Lagos a global city and Africa’s economic hub if elected.

“I have used my time and energy in helping not only to build democracy in Lagos State but to also expand the frontiers of Government, transparency and accountability.

“I have also struggled to ensure that Lagos State maintains its place in the nation and indeed becomes Africa’s pre-eminent city,” he said.

Several party members thronged the venue of the declaration to support Ikuforiji’s ambition, and some of them expressed belief that Lagos State would experience the desired progress under his leadership.

Mr Ikuforiji was born in Epe in Lagos State on August 24, 1958. He attended Epe Grammar School and later the University of Lagos.

He served as a member of the State Technical Committee of Eko Transport Service Limited. He is the longest serving Speaker of a House of Assembly in Nigeria.

Money Laundering Charges: Judges’ Seminar Stalls Trial Of Lagos Speaker

Lagos Speaker IkuforijiThe trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Monday stalled as the presiding judge had to rise to attend a judges’ seminar.

Ikuforiji, had been standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira, charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC alleged that Ikuforiji and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi, accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

The suit, which was fixed for continuation of trial, could not go on as earlier scheduled, due to a judges’ seminar organised by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

When the case was called, the Prosecutor, Godwin Obla, and the Defence Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, consented to an adjournment.

The defence counsel, however, urged the prosecutor to produce his remaining witnesses in court on the next date, to ensure speedy trial.

Justice Ibrahim Buba then adjourned the case till Tuesday, March 18, for continuation of trial before leaving for his seminar.

The EFCC had re-arraigned the accused persons on June 24, 2013, on an amended 54 count charge.

The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

Both men had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of 1 billion Naira each, with two sureties, each in the sum of N500 million.

Money Laundering Charges: Change Of Counsel Stalls Lagos Speaker’s Trial

The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Tuesday stalled by a change of counsel.

Ikuforiji is standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira. The charges were brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC alleged that he and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Wole Olanipekun, told Justice Ibrahim Buba, that he had just been briefed by the Speaker to take over the case from the previous counsel, Tayo Oyetibo.

While no reason was given for the change of counsel, the new counsel however asked the court for time to study the case file in order to adequately prepare for the defence of his client.

Although, Counsel to the EFCC, Godwin Obla, had expressed his readiness to proceed with the trial, he did not oppose the motion for an adjournment.

The counsel merely expressed regret that the Nigerian Constitution did not make any provision for a demand for cost.

After listening to both lawyers, Justice Buba was forced to cancel Wednesday and Friday, January 8 and 10, 2014 which he had earlier fixed for the continuation of the trial. The case was then adjourned till the March 17.

EFCC Re-arraigns Lagos Assembly Speaker, Gets N1billion Bail

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi for their alleged involvement in laundering over N273million belonging to the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Both men were on Monday, re-arraigned at the Federal High Court, Lagos before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

The offence is said to be contrary to Sections 18(A) of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(B) of the same Act.

They both pleaded not guilty to an amended 54-count charge and have been granted bail in the sum of N1billion each.

The court also made a bail condition for two sureties each in the sum of N5million each.

The sureties are to swear to an affidavit of means, while the two accused persons must give an undertaking that they would always be present in court for their trial.

“They would not be remanded in prison custody if they are able to perfect the bail conditions within 48 hours. But if they fail, a bench warrant will be issued against them” the Judge ruled.

The duo had earlier been arraigned on March 1, 2012 on a 20-count charge.

The trial is however to commence afresh following the retirement of the previous judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke.

The fresh date for the trial is the 25th of September.

Witnesses Describe How Lagos Speaker Transferred Public Fund To Personal Account

After a three month lull, trial continued on Tuesday in the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji.

The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

Mr Ikuforiji is standing trial alongside his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on a 20-count of alleged money laundering.

An EFCC investigator, Adeniyi Adebayo, being led in evidence by the anti-graft agency’s counsel, Godwin Obla, narrated how various sums of money was paid into Mr Ikuforiji’s bank account in one year.

He said that between July 2010 and August 2011, N36.52 million from the House of Assembly’s Cash Office was deposited into Mr Ikuforiji’s private bank accounts.

The EFCC investigator added that the sum of N6 million was deposited on July 2, 2010; N5 million on August 1, 2010; N5 million on July 9, 2011; N4 million on July 27, 2011; N10.52 million on August 31, 2011; and N6 million on October 8, 2011.

“Part of the cash received from the cash office of the Accounts Department of the Lagos House of Assembly by the second accused (Mr Atoyebi) was used to run errand for the first accused (Mr Ikuforiji),” he said.

“I cannot remember what specifically the errands were,” he added.

The EFCC lawyer tendered an exhibit before the court, a statement purportedly made by Mr Atoyebi in October 12, 2012, in which he admitted to have collected the various cash payments from the Assembly’ s Cash Office and how he deposited the N36.52 million into Mr Ikuforiji’s bank accounts.

In addition to allegedly converting state funds to private use, the Speaker was further accused by the EFCC of signing off various sums of money under shady circumstances.

The commission said that they possess statements by other members of the House of Assembly and civil servants in the state legislature detailing such jamboree payments.

Being led in evidence, Bolaji Ayinla, a member representing Mushin Constituency 11, stated how, with the speaker’s approval, he collected N22 million in cash for members of the House of Assembly and the staff of the legislature for the 2011 Ramadan celebration.

Lambo Abosede, a civil servant, stated how she paid N7 million to Tell magazine in April 7, 2011.

No receipts were issued for the collection of these sums.

Another civil servant, Toyin Atekoja, who works at the House’s Accounts Section, stated that “various cash payments were made to various persons.”

According to the EFCC, Ms. Atekoja said that 14 members of the House each received N1, 128, 859, in cash, for the second conference and annual general meeting of Commonwealth Parliament Association held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Mr Atoyebi allegedly collected, in cash, N3, 313,721.90 on behalf of the speaker for the same purpose.

Justice Okechukwu Okeke, the trial judge, fixed March 19, 20 and 21 for continuation of trial.

Money Laundering: Lagos Speaker Back To Court Tomorrow

The trial of the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji will resume tomorrow (Tuesday) with the continuation of the testimony of the first prosecution witness.

The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

At the last sitting of the court, last year, the Witness, Adebayo Adeniji, an investigating officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had told trial judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke that several cash registers were recovered from the accounts department of the Lagos House of Assembly, confirming the alleged money laundering charges against the speaker.

Mr Ikuforiji and his personal assistant, Alade Atoyebi are facing a 20 charges of misappropriating about N500 million of the Lagos State House funds, an offence which contravenes Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The EFCC on Monday however moved an application to halt temporarily, the trial of both men pending the response of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to a letter seeking the re-assignment of the criminal trial to another judge.

According to the prosecution, the letter to the Chief Judge was based on the fact that the trial judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke is due to retire in May 2013 and may not conclude the matter before then.

Counsel to the Speaker, Tayo Oyetibo however urged the court to dismiss the letter and continue with the trial. He argued that the right to speedy hearing is an indisputable aspect of fair hearing.

In a bench ruling, Justice Okeke held that the letter before the Chief Judge for re-assignment is not an appeal neither does it constitute a stay of proceedings. He ruled that until the Court hears from the Chief Judge, it would continue with the matter and subsequently adjourned to the 19, 20 and 21 of February for continuation of trial.

Lagos Assembly threatens total Okada ban

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday threatened to ban commercial motorcycle popularly known as Okada out rightly from the State.

Some Okada riders protesting the ban on them from plying 475 roads in the metropolis.

The Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji made the threat following a report on the destruction of government properties by the protesting Okada riders along Ikorodu road.

The House frowned at the attitude of Okada riders in the metropolis, calling on the state government to further strengthen security agencies to protect lives and property.

Mr Ikuforiji, while reacting to the incident said the House would not hesitate to ban Okada out rightly if the riders continue to destroy government property and constitute nuisance in the State.

Some Okada riders went on the rampage in various parts of Lagos State on Monday to protest the ban on them from plying 475 roads in the metropolis.

At Onipanu, on Ikorodu Road, the protesters vandalised about 10 BRT buses during the violent protest against the Lagos State Government.

Armed with sticks, iron roads and other dangerous weapons, the Okada riders hauled stones at BRT buses on Ikorodu road at Onipanu and Palmgrove bus stops.

There was pandemonium in the area and a team of policemen from the Rapid Response Squad, RRS was deployed to the area to quell the protest.
It was gathered that some arrests were made by the police but the number of arrests is yet to be confirmed.

Similarly, the riders also protested in Ikorodu and Ejigbo areas of the state this morning over the ban on them by government. In Ejigbo, the riders blocked the road, causing traffic jam in the area while they carried leaves and chanted anti-government songs. They rejected the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in Lagos, saying it would cripple their businesses.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the protest, saying the police moved in on time to quell the protest.

Total war on Okada

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has declared a total war on commercial motorcycle riders plying the 475 prohibited routes in the Lagos metropolis.

Speaking at a forum to enlighten military officials in Lagos, the State governor, Babatunde Fashola solicited the assistance of the army in the implementation of the new traffic law.

“The military gave us this democracy, so there must be a continuing partnership to keep it going,” Mr Fashola said.

The governor however insisted that such partnership would happen “only where the rule of law prevails.”

He said: “About the Okada, for me, I understand the economics of the okada. But it also has the social effects. Many fathers have lost their children; many husbands have lost their wives; many children have lost both parents.

“All we are saying is don’t go on the highways. First because we must even understand, Okadas and vehicles are automobiles; they are not toys; they are mechanical devices and therefore for you to even use them you must go and train. That’s why you go to driving school to go and learn; then they certify you.

“Somebody just pulls okada from any parts of the country he likes, gets onto a truck, he’s going to Lagos and then you entrust your life to that man? As if that was not bad enough, he drives against traffic?

Lagos Speaker fails to stop money laundering trial against him

The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Thursday dismissed the application brought by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji to quash the money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial crimes Commission (EFCC).

The presiding judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke in a ruling delivered in a packed courtroom filled with Mr Ikuforiji’s supporters and some lawmakers, held that the reasons canvassed in support of the application to quash the charges were not tenable.

The court also dismissed a counter motion filed by the EFCC challenging the propriety of the Speaker’s application; the judge held that the objection raised by the commission was misconceived, and lacking in merit.

Justice Okeke in his ruling also faulted the Speaker’s argument that since the alleged acts were done in his capacity as the Speaker he was not liable as that would amount to suing Lagos State government.

According to the court such reasoning cannot stand because the Speaker and his aide were charged to court in their own capacity.

The judge maintained that “If the prosecution had wanted to, it could have filed the action against the Lagos State Government or the Attorney-General, but this action is filed against the accused persons.

The motion to quash the charge was therefore dismissed while the court ordered an accelerated hearing of the matter.

It will be recalled that the EFCC had on March 1, 2012 arraigned Mr Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on an amended 20-count of money laundering.

The commission is accusing the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly and his aide of accepting cash payment from the Assembly to the tune of N501 million without going through a financial institution.

Justice Okeke adjourned the case till the 24 October for commencement of trial.