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Ex-Lagos Speaker’s N338m ‘money laundering’ case to start afresh

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, on Wednesday, rescheduled to December 11, 2019, the re-arraignment of a former Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, for alleged money laundering.

Ikuforiji and Atoyebi are facing a N338 million laundering charge filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The money, the commission said, belongs to the Lagos State government.

The Federal High Court, Lagos, discharged both men of the same allegations in 2015 on the ground that they had no case to answer.

But the lower court’s decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, following which Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were charged afresh by the EFCC before Justice Mohammed Liman.

Ikuforiji and Oyebode were not in court yesterday when the case was called.

Their counsel, Mr Tunde Akinrinmisi, told the judge that the defendants had not been served.

Akinrinmisi said he received a hearing notice as one of the lawyers who represented the defendants during the initial trial and it was out of “utmost respect for the court” that he came to court on Wednesday.

He prayed the judge to grant an adjournment for him to get in touch with the defendants.

But EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo opposed him.

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Oyedepo said he would “grudgingly concede to adjournment” because the case had suffered series of adjournments at the instance of the defendants.

Besides, he said, the charge was served on the defendants when the trial started some years ago.

Justice Liman adjourned till December 11 for the defendants’ arraignment.

The former Speaker and his aide were initially discharged and acquitted by a Federal High Court in Lagos of 54 counts of money laundering.

But when the case was pursued to the Supreme Court on appeal by the EFCC, the apex court, in January 2018, ordered for a retrial by the Federal High Court.

In the new charge, dated June 4, 2013, the EFCC filed 56 counts against Aikuforiji and Atoyebi.

It was filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos by Mary Onaja.

The charge alleges that the defendants, between April 2010 and August 2011, conspired to commit an illegal act, to wit: accepting various cash payments amounting to N338 million from the Lagos State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section18(a) of the Money Laundering Act 2011.