EFCC re-arraigns Ikuforiji, aide for N673m fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, for alleged laundering of N673 million at a Federal High Court in Lagos.

They were re-arraigned yesterday on a 54-count charge bordering on the alleged offence before Justice Mohammed Liman.

Upon the reading of the charge to them, they, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts. Afterwards, EFCC’s lawyer, E. E. Iheanacho, sought for a trial date and asked that the defendants be remanded in prison.

Responding to the lawyer’s request, Justice Liman said it would be inappropriate for him to order the prison remand of the defendants, because they had been granted bail by the former judge who handled the matter.

“The defendants will not be remanded in prison because they were already on bail. The case was only previously aborted due to the filing of no case submissions by the defendants. The court only need to be sure their sureties are still available,” Justice Liman said.

Upon the agreement of parties, the judge adjourned the matter to February 5, 2020, for commencement of trial. He also ordered the defence to produce evidence showing the willingness of the defendants’ sureties to continue to stand for them within two weeks failure, which a warrant of arrest might be issued against the defendants.

Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were returning to the court after both the Supreme and Appeal Courts ordered their retrial at the lower court over the alleged offence.

They were cleared of any wrongdoing on September 26, 2014, by Justice Ibrahim Buba. The judge in a ruling on their no-case submissions held that the EFCC had not only failed to establish a prima-facie case against the two but was also unable to proof any of the ingredients of the crime of money laundering.

Dissatisfied, EFCC lodged an appeal against the ruling on September 30, 2014, asking that it be overturned.

The lower court’s ruling was subsequently on November 30, 2016, upturned by the Lagos Division of the appellate court.

The appellate court in a unanimous judgement set aside the verdict of the lower court and held that the EFCC had made a prima-facie case against the former speaker for him to enter his defence.

The court, in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Biobela Georgewill, ordered that the accused persons’ trial should start afresh before another judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos other than Justice Buba in the light of the far-reaching findings already made by him. The appellate court’s ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

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