Judge Adjourns Alleged Fraud Trial to Six Months

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The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday adjourned till September 30, the ‘N673million laundering’ trial of an ex-Lagos House of Assembly Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi.

The court did not sit, but Justice Mohammed Liman communicated the date to the defendants and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through his registrar.

The judge said he fixed the date in compliance with a directive from the FHC Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho.

The Nation learnt that the directive, issued in January, requires judges to not open new trials until the ongoing process of FHC judges’ transfer is complete

The directive has stalled all new cases slated for trial at the FHC.

The transfer is expected to be completed this month.

Section 396(3)(4) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, requires that upon arraignment of a defendant, trial shall be from day to day or where it is not practicable it should not exceed two weeks.

Following the registrar’s announcement, EFCC counsel Ekele Iheanacho expressed displeasure, noting that the date was beyond the annual court vacation which begins in July.

Ikuforiji and Atoyebi are facing a N673m laundering charge filed against them by the EFCC.

The commission said the money 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 last December 11 re-arraigned by the EFCC before Justice Liman.

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In the new charge dated June 4, 2013, the EFCC filed 56-counts against the former speaker and his aide.

The charge alleges that Ikuforiji and Atoyebi between April 2010 and August 2011 conspired to commit an illegal act, to wit, accepting various cash payments amounting to the sum of N673m 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.

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