Court Adjourns Ruling In Case Against Lagos Speaker

download The Federal High Court in Lagos, has adjourned case ruling on  September 26,on a ‘no case submission’ filed by the Speaker of  Lagos State Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji.

The Speaker is standing trial before the court alongside his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, on an amended 56-count charge bordering on laundering about 500 Million Naira.

After the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, closed its case in proof of the charges against the two men, the defence team led by, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN filed a ‘no case submission’.

They submitted among other things that the EFCC had not succeeded in making a case against their client to warrant him to open a defence.

After considering the heavy work load of his court, Presiding Justice Ibrahim Buba who had initially fixed Friday, for the ruling said it was impossible for him to conclude his ruling on the ‘no case submission’ and refused the request of the defence counsel, for the ruling to be delivered during the period of the vacation of the court.

The Federal High Court is scheduled to begin its annual vacation on Monday,July 14. The court is expected to resume for the new Legal year on September.

The EFCC represented by Mr Edward Okpe, had objected to the ruling on the ‘no case submission’ been delivered during the vacation period.

In a short ruling, Justice Buba held that “since the prosecution has refused that the ruling be delivered during vacation, and considering the legality of doing so, this matter stands adjourned to Sept. 26.

It will be recalled that the accused persons were re-arraigned before Justice Buba, on June 24, 2013, following the retirement of Justice Okechukwu Okeke, the former judge.

They had however pleaded not guilty to the charges and Justice Buba had granted them bail in the sum of one Billion Naira each with two sureties  each in the sum of 500 Million Naira.

The prosecutor, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) had called two witnesses Mr Adebayo Adeniyi, a Principal Detective Supritendant and a former clerk of the house, Mr Adewale Olatunji in proof of the EFCC’s case against the accused persons.

He closed the case of the prosecution on June 20, 2014.

The defence team on July 7, argued a “no case submission” on behalf of the accused persons urging the court to discharge and acquit them of all the charges.

The prosecutor had however, raised objection to the submissions of the defence team and had also urged the court to order the accused persons to open their defence.
The court had reserved ruling on the submissions.

In the charge, the accused persons were alleged to have committed the offence between April 2010 and July 2011 respectively.

They were also alleged to have committed an illegal act of accepting cash payments of over 273 Million Naira from the Lagos State. House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

Hon Ikuforiji was also alleged to have used his position to misappropriate about 500 Million Naira of the Assembly’s funds.

The offence is said to contravene the provisions of section 18(a) of the money laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

N500m Money Laundering Charges: Ikuforiji Makes “No Case Submission”

Adeyemi IkuforijiA Federal High Court in Lagos, has fixed Friday the 11th of July to rule on a “no case submission” made by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji.

Hon Ikuforiji is standing trial alongside his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, on an amended 56 count charge of laundering about N500 million of the Lagos State House of Assembly funds.

Justice Ibrahim Buba reserved ruling after the defence counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) made the no case submission on behalf of his client before the court.

Adopting his submissions, Olanipekun argued that the prosecution had not in any way, made out a case against the accused to warrant him entering the dock to open his defence.

Citing a plethora of authorities, the learned silk argued that the office of a speaker of House of Assembly of a state was constitutionally created, and so, by parity of reasoning, the first accused was sovereign as presently constituted.

He noted that the charge against the accused largely dwelt on transacting with funds above the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering Act and not necessarily whether they were in cash or not.

He also argued that the accused had not been involved in any transaction within the contemplation of the Act, since all funds collected on his behalf, were based on requisition notes which were approved and handed over to banks, before cash was received.

He concluded that the National Assembly would not have contemplated by the enactment of the Act, that the accused who had only obtained funds officially for the benefit of the Assembly, would now stand trial for performing his official duties.

Chief Olanipekun also pointed out that the prosecution failed to demonstrate elements of conspiracy between the accused persons, he therefore, submitted that prosecution had not made out any case against the accused, for which he was expected to now enter a defence.

Counsel to the the Speaker’s aide, Mr Tunde Akinrimisi, aligned himself with the submissions of Chief Olanipekun.

In response to the submissions of the defence counsel, the prosecutor, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), urged the court to disregard the arguments of the counsel, and order the accused persons to open their defence.

Obla argued that the confessional statement of the accused persons before the EFCC, was enough evidence on their admission of having transacted with cash of the Assembly, about 57 times.

Witness Alleges Shady Cash Withdrawals As Lagos Speaker’s Trial Resumes

Lagos Speaker IkuforijiThe trial of  the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, continued on Tuesday with the first prosecution witness detailing how the defendants allegedly laundered millions of Naira.

Mr. Ikuforiji and his aide, Mr Oyebode Atoyebi, are facing a 54 count amended charge of money laundering amounting to over N600 million.

The witness, who is a Principal Detective Superintendent (PDS) with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Adebayo Adeniyi, told the court how the defendants collected N13.5 million for honorarium, N4.5 million for renovation of the Speaker’s residence, and N1.5 million for the Speaker’s Guest House for six consecutive months.

The EFCC had accused the Speaker and his aide of receiving the money from the Lagos State House of Assembly without passing through a financial institution.

Mr. Adeniyi, in his testimony also stated how the Lagos State House of Assembly paid millions of Naira to Mr. Ikuforiji; his wife, Mayowa; his orderly; his personal assistant; as well as the state’s Deputy Speaker.

All the monies were collected by the Speaker’s aide, Mr. Atoyebi and paid in cash.

Mr. Adeniyi also testified that the Permanent Secretary, who along with the Director of Finance are signatories to the account, withdrew the money from the Lagos State House of Assembly’s account.

Under cross examination, the witness, however, admitted that he was not aware of what the Speaker used the monies for, neither was he aware that they were used for any illegal activity.

The trial continues on April 28.

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.

Ikuforiji Made Cash Withdrawals 57 Times, Witness Tells Court

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced the trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, one Oyebode Atoyebi.
Both men were arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 54-count charge of money laundering.

The EFCC had alleged that the duo conspired between April 2010 and July 2011, to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3 million from the Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) without going through a financial institution.

The anti graft commission called its first prosecution witness, Mr Adebayo Adedeji, an investigating police officer to give evidence today (Thursday).

The witness told the court, presided by Justice Ibrahim Buba, that the commission’s investigations revealed that Hon. Ikuforiji received cash payments from the accounts section of the Lagos State House of Assembly about 57 times.

Four cash release registers recovered from the state house of assembly, according to the investigation showed that the cash was released in favour of the Lagos speaker, and the second accused person, his personal assistant.

The cash sums were above the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering Act.

The witness also testified that apart from obtaining the four cash release registers, some members of the State House of Assembly had also made statements which confirmed the payments.

The members who made statements include, Mr Adewale Olatunji a former Clerk of the house, Mrs Toyin Atekoja the Accountant, Mr Rotimi Abirua the Director of Finance, and Mr Kolawole Taiwo the Deputy Speaker of the house.

The Second accused person also made a statement to the EFCC where he admitted to collecting the money on behalf of the Lagos Speaker.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla (SAN) then tendered all the statements in court as well as the cash registers.

Also tendered was a statement made by Speaker Ikuforiji admitting that most of the monies  received by the second accused, had been in cash since he assumed office as his personal assistant.

The Speaker had also disclosed in the statements that cash payments had been the tradition of the Lagos State House of Assembly since his assumption into office as Speaker.

The court admitted all the documents as exhibits before adjourning till the 2nd of December for continuation of trial.

The EFCC had on June 24, re-arraigned the two accused persons before Justice Ibrahim Buba, on an amended 54-count charge of money laundering.

The accused had however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of N1 billion each with two sureties each in the sum of N500 million.

The prosecution had alleged that the duo conspired between April 2010 and July 2011, to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3 million from the LAHA without going through a financial institution.

The EFCC  had also alleged that Hon Ikuforiji used his position to misappropriate about N500 million of the LAHA’s funds.

He told the court that the offences contravened Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

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.

Trial Of Lagos Speaker’s Stalled As Prosecutor Withdraws

The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable Adeyemi  Ikuforiji and his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi over allegations of money laundering has being stalled following the withdrawal of the Chief Prosecutor, Godwin Obla from the case.

The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

When the matter came up for continuation of trial at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday, a senior counsel with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Alli Yussuf  announced Mr Obla’s withdrawal in court.

Mr Yussuf told the presiding Judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke that though he was yet to see the letter written to that effect, he was compelled to appear in the case following the withdrawal of Mr Obla who had been handling the case since inception.

Mr Obla was said to have attributed his withdrawal to the 13 trial days in the month of April, starting from today Tuesday, fixed by the court for the hearing of the matter.

He said these dates would considerably constrain his ability to diligently prosecute the matter, as he had other legal proceedings before various courts and arbitral tribunals within and outside the country which conflict with the dates fixed by the court.

Mr Obla was also said to have advised the EFCC to retain the services of another counsel whose calendar can accommodate the dates fixed for the matter by the court.

Mr Yussuf however urged the court to adjourn the matter for another three weeks to enable him study the case file.

Counsel for the Lagos Speaker, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) opposed the request of the EFCC for adjournment.

The defence counsel pointed out that this was a case in which the accused person was begging for prosecution so as to clear his name while the prosecutor was running away from prosecuting. He therefore urged the court to either dismiss or strike out the charges against the accused persons.

The EFCC counsel swiftly opposed this application and further urged court for more time to enable him study the case file so as to properly prosecute.

Justice Okeke has enjoined the EFCC to engage the services of another prosecuting counsel to continue the case. He then adjourned the matter till the 24th of April.

Channels TV has however gathered that the trial judge is due for retirement in May and would not be able to conclude the case, thereby further stalling the trial.

Money Laundering: Court Refuses Plea To End Ikuforiji’s Trial

The Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday refused an application by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, seeking to terminate their trial.

The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

Messrs Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were arraigned before Justice Okechukwu  Okeke on March 1 2012 on the charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They were accused among others, of conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3m from the Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) without going through a financial institution.

Mr Ikuforiji is also accused of using his position to misappropriate about N500m belonging to LAHA.

Justice Okeke, in a ruling on the application, refrained from dismissing the 20-count money laundering charge on which the duo was being tried, holding that he would be guided by public interest.

He therefore granted an accelerated hearing in the case and adjourned to 8 April.

The lead defence lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo had asked the court to dismiss the charges after realising that the prosecution lawyer, Godwin Obla was absent in court.

Mr Obla had sent a letter to the court to explain his absence.

Mr Oyetibo however argued that the prosecution had, since his clients’ arraignment in March 2012 treated the case with much levity.

He submitted that most adjournments granted in the matter had been at the instance of the prosecution, who he accused of exhibiting visible reluctance to prosecute the case.

He consequently urged the court to dismiss the case for lack of diligent prosecution.

In his ruling, Justice Okeke said he would adjourn the matter again in the overriding public interest.

He then adjourned the case to the 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of April for continuation of trial.

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.