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.

Why Akande, AIC Can’t Stay On Airport Land – FAAN

The General Manager of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Yakubu Dati has said that the authority had secured a judgment in June that rescind the lease of the disputed land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos from AIC Limited.

On Tuesday, personnel of FAAN and some officials of AIC Nigeria Limited, engaged in a free for all over the said piece of land.

FAAN had taken possession of the land ceded to AIC for the construction of a hotel following a court ruling and yesterday deployed its workers to clear the land with two tractors.

The Chairman of AIC, Harry Akande, guarded by armed policemen and some of his workers invaded the land to prevent FAAN officials from working on the land, even as he said the court ruling did not direct FAAN to take possession of the land.

The scuffle which lasted for several hours attracted the attention of travellers and airport users. Some Policemen from the MurtalaMuhammed Airport led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), Chucks Enwonwu were around to restore peace while appealing to the parties to settle the matter amicably.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, Mr Dati said that the disputed 15 Hectares of land has been overgrown with grass necessitating FAAN officials to move in to clear the weed and that in the process they were accosted by thugs led by the Chairman of AIC, Harry Akande.

He said for security reasons third parties are not allowed to go near the terminal and that FAAN staff tried to protect the terminal from being invade by Mr Akande and those with him.

Mr Dati said in 1998 under the government of Sani Abacha, the land which is about 15 hectares was given as concession to AIC to build and manage a hotel facility for 50 years.

He said the area concessioned was supposed to be for expansion claiming that due to lack of expansion most people miss their flights and the facilities are breaking down.

He said due to that fact that the land had not been used for over 15 years, FAAN decided to terminate the contract and a sum of $48 million was proposed by arbitration as compensation to AIC but that FAAN lawyers rejected the proposal stating they can’t pay for a land that had been laying fallow.