Law News
EFCC appeals the discharge of Ikuforiji, aide

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday  appealed against the judgment of a Federal High Court in Lagos which discharged Adeyemi Ikuforiji of money laundering charges.

Lagos Speaker, Ikuforiji

Ikuforiji, the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, with his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, were arraigned on a 56-count charge bordering on the laundering of N273 million belonging to the Assembly.

The Speaker and his aide, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges at their re-arraignment on March 1, 2012 and June 24, 2013, respectively following the transfer of the case to two different judges.

Justice Ibrahim Buba discharged the accused on Sept. 26, after upholding a no case submission filed on their behalf by their counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Mr Tunde Akinrinmisi, respectively.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, the EFCC filed a notice of appeal before the appellate court raising nine grounds.

In the notice of appeal filed on Sept. 30 by Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), the appellant wants the appellate court to set aside the decision of the lower court on grounds that it was erroneous and perverse.

The appellant also wants an order of the appellate court, directing trial to commence “de novo” (afresh), before another judge of the Federal High Court other than Justice Ibrahim Buba.

According to Obla, the trial judge erred in law when he held that the provision of Section 1 of the Money Laundering Act 2004 and 2011 only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies.

“The lower court erred in law when it held and concluded that the case of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.

“The learned trial judge erred in law when he upheld the no case submission of the defendants and thereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice,” Obla averred.

He therefore asked the appellate court to allow the appeal and nullify the judgment of the trial court.

No date has been fixed to hear the appeal.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the prosecution closed its case on June 20 after calling two witnesses.

The witnesses, Mr Adebayo Adeniji, an investigating police officer and Mr Adewale Olatunji, a former clerk of the assembly, have given testimonies at the investigations conducted on the accused and activities of the House.

Delivering judgment, Buba had held that the prosecution failed totally in establishing a prima facie case against the accused.

The judge described the entire prosecution as a “joke taken too far, adding that the whole prosecution was based on a “trial and error” approach.

Buba had upheld the no case submission and discharged the accused, adding that prosecution should by no means be translated into persecution.

NAN recalls that the respondents were alleged to have committed an illegal act of accepting cash payments of over N273 million from the Assembly without going through a financial institution.

Ikuforiji was also alleged to have used his position to misappropriate about N500 million of the LAHA’s funds.

The offence contravened the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

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