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Court to rule over Lagos Speaker money-laundering trial

07 July 2014, 18:30

Lagos - The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed Friday as the date to rule on an application by the Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, challenging his trial.

Ikufori and his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, are facing charges of laundering money to the value of N273 million.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is seeking their prosecution.

Counsel to the two defendants, Wole Olanipekun, stated that the EFCC had not provided an essential evidence to prove the alleged offence of money laundering against his clients.

He argued that this would be the first time a speaker would be prosecuted in respect of official funds officially released after due requisition, approval and acceptance.

Olanipekun further contended that it was impossible for official funds for official assignment to be laundered, as alleged by EFCC.

He pointed out that some sections of the Lagos State House of Assembly Self Accounting Law provided for how official funds were to be expended and that all the ledgers tendered by the prosecution were covered by the definition section of the Money Laundering Act to the effect that the ledgers qualified as financial instruments.

“The office of the Speaker is not a private office but a public office created by Section 92 of the Constitution. There is no count in the charge sheet that says the Speaker diverted the funds to his personal account or for personal use therefore,” he said.

EFCC's lawyer, Godwin Obla, while opposing the application, urged the court to discontinuance all the submissions of defence counsels and dismiss the application and make the accused persons to present their defence if any.

He hinged his submission on the ground that Section 1 of the Money Laundering Act clearly prevents anyone including corporate body from accepting or making cash payment above a threshold.

 He further stated that some sections Money Laundering Act of 2004 and 16 (1) (d) of 2011 made it a criminal offence for anybody or corporate body to make or accept cash payment above the threshold.

– CAJ News

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