The court postpones the former Lagos Speaker Ikuforiji's money laundering trial.

The court postpones the former Lagos Speaker Ikuforiji's money laundering trial.
The trial of Adeyemi Ikuforiji, a former speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, for suspected money laundering of N338.8 million was postponed by a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday.

Because Justice Mohammed Liman, who is presiding over the case on a fiat, did not sit, the case, which had been scheduled for trial continuation on November 15, could not proceed.

Despite having been moved out of the Lagos section, Justice Liman returns to oversee the case after a fiat.

Nov. 20 was set as the next date for the case.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has indicted Ikuforiji together with Oyebode Atoyebi, his former personal assistant.

A total of 54 counts related to alleged money laundering of N338.8 million are being tried against them.

When they were first charged in 2012, they were each granted an early bail, which allowed them to continue on their plea of not guilty.

Once the prosecution's second witness was called, the EFCC ended its case on March 17, 2021.

There were two witnesses summoned by the prosecution to bolster its case.

Subsequently, Justice Liman was moved out of the Lagos division, and the case encountered other obstacles.

Mr. Dele Adesina, the defense attorney, opened the case for the defense on May 4 and started calling witnesses.

Three witnesses, including the first defendant (Ikuforiji), were called by the defense.

Ikuforiji had testified, among other things, about how he was being prosecuted based on an anonymous petition.

He had informed the court that the present case stemmed from a petition filed by an unidentified individual, who claimed to have pilfered over N7 billion from the Lagos House of Assembly.

As a result, a date for the adoption of written addresses was set.

The matter will now proceed on November 20.

On March 1, 2012, the defendants were initially arraigned before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a 20-count charge that included allegations of money laundering and misappropriation.

After entering not guilty pleas to the allegations, they were each given bail.

However, once the case was reassigned, the defendants were subsequently re-arrested before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

They each received N500 million in bail from Buba, along with sundry sureties.

Judge Buba dismissed the accusations against Ikuforiji and his assistant on September 26, 2014, following the defendants' no case submission.

According to Buba, the EFCC was unable to prove a prima-facie case against them.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, the EFCC filed a Notice of Appeal on September 30, 2014, contesting the trial court's decision, through the counsel of Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN).

The trial court's ruling that the counts were incompetent due to their filing under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004—a provision that was later repealed by an Act of 2011—was challenged by Obla as an error in law.

The EFCC further contended that the lower court made a legal error in ruling that the Government was the sole natural person and corporate entity covered by Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Acts, 2004 and 2011.

The commission further claimed that the trial judge had made a legal error in holding and concluding that the prosecution witnesses' testimony proved the respondents' innocence.

In November 2016, the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court upheld the prosecution's position and mandated that the defendants face a new trial before a different judge.

After the Appeal Court's ruling, the defendants went to the Supreme Court in an attempt to reverse the Appellate Court's verdict.

The Supreme Court once more affirmed the appeal court's ruling in its ruling and mandated that the matter be remanded to the Federal High Court Chief Judge for reassignment to a different judge.

The charge against the defendants stated that the EFCC claimed that they took cash payments beyond the Money Laundering Act's threshold without going thru a banking institution.

The commission charged the defendants with planning to take N338.8 million in cash payments directly from the House of Assembly without first going through a financial institution, which is a prohibited act.

Ikuforiji was also charged with embezzling money from the Assembly by abusing his position.

The defendants allegedly committed the offenses between April 2010 and July 2011, according to the EFCC.

The EFCC claims that the offenses violate Sections 15 (1d), 16(1d), and 18 of the Money Laundering Acts of 2004 and 2011.

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