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‘N300m fraud’: Petition against me was written by unnamed person, Ikuforiji tells court

‘N300m fraud’: Petition against me was written by unnamed person, Ikuforiji tells court
May 04
20:24 2023

Adeyemi Ikuforiji, former speaker of the Lagos state house of assembly, has testified before a federal high court in the case of money laundering brought against him.

Ikuforiji, on Thursday, told the court that the petition that led to his trial was written by an unnamed author.

The ex-Lagos speaker and his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, are facing trial over a N333.8 million money laundering allegation.

Ikuforiji served as the speaker of Lagos state assembly from 2005 to 2015.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused the defendants of allegedly accepting cash payments of N338.8 million from the house of assembly without going through a financial institution.

BACKGROUND

In March 2012, Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were first arraigned before Okechukwu Okeke, a judge at the federal high court, on a 20-count charge bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.

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The defendants pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.

However, the defendants were re-arraigned before Ibrahim Buba, a judge, following a re-assignment of the case.

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

On September 26, 2014, the judge discharged Ikuforiji and his aide of the charges, after upholding a no-case submission of the defendants.

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Dissatisfied with the decision of the federal high court, the EFCC approached the appeal court.

In November 2016, the appeal court ruled that the money laundering trial against the defendants must continue.

Displeased with the ruling of the appeal court, the defendants headed for the supreme court.

In its verdict, the apex court upheld the decision of the court of appeal and ordered that the case be sent back to the chief judge of the federal high court for reassignment.

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The case was then returned to the federal high court for continuation of trial.

In March 2021, the EFCC closed its case after presenting its witnesses to the court.

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THURSDAY’S COURT CASE

At the resumption of the hearing on Thursday, Ikuforiji was led by Dele Adesina, his counsel, to testify before the court.

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The defendant told the court he was being prosecuted as a result of a petition by an unknown person alleging that he stole about  N7 billion from the Lagos state house of assembly.

He said that it was based on the allegation that EFCC began an investigation into the case, adding that the commission’s operatives came to his house.

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The defendant told the court that the operatives found nothing incriminating in his house, but was surprised that he is being prosecuted based on the petition.

“It is a pity that I am standing here based on this allegation,” he said.

Asked by his counsel what he thought was the reason for his alleged victimisation, Ikuforiji responded that the house of assembly is a place where the speaker is always at risk.

“The house is a place where the head is always at risk. He can go out as the head, but return as a nobody,” he said.

The defendant told the court that if truly there were any founded allegations against him, the assembly would have investigated it.

“It is now I know that I have a lot of enemies,” he said.

Ikuforiji told the court that it was not his duty to disburse funds to members of the house, adding that the monies that he received were meant for his office.

“When memos were raised, if I found them worthy, I gave approval,” he said.

“Whatever funds that came in, were for the office of the speaker and not to me personally.

“It was not my duty to regulate payments. When the clerk submitted memos to me, if I found them worthy, I approved.”

The case has been adjourned to June 1 for continuation of trial.

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