The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re- arraigned former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji, before the Federal High Court, Lagos over alleged N338.8 million money laundering charge. Ikuforiji was docked alongside his former personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi.
The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012, before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a 20-count charge bordering on misappropriation and money laundering. They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail. The defendants were, however, re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba, following a re-assignment of the case.
On September 26, 2014, Buba discharged Ikuforiji and his aide of the charges, after upholding a no-case submission of the defendants.
Buba had held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC filed appeal dated September 30, 2014, challenging the decision of the trial court.
Lagos Division of the Appeal Court, in its judgment on November 2016, 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.
Again, in its verdict, the apex court also 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. The trial is now to begin de novo (afresh) before a new judge, Justice Mohammed Liman.
The case was adjourned until February 5 and February 19, 2020, for trial.
According to the charge, EFCC alleges that the defendants accepted cash payments above the threshold set by the Money Laundering Act, without going through a financial institution. The commission accused the defendants of conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments in the aggregate sum of N338.8 million from the House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.
Ikuforiji was also accused of using his position to misappropriate funds belonging to the Assembly.
The EFCC said that the defendants committed the offences between April 2010 and July 2011. The offences, according to the EFCC, contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (1d), 16(1d) and 18 of Money Laundering Act, 2004 and 2011.