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Judge adjourns Ikuforiji’s trial indefinitely

24 April 2013, 16:43

Lagos -  A Federal High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday adjourned indefinitely the trial of Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly.

Ikuforiji is charged with laundering N773.3 million.

Justice Okechukwu Okeke adjourned the case following what he described as "deliberate act by prosecution to delay hearing in the case".

When the case was mentioned, Mr David Ibenu had announced his appearance to represent the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), following the withdrawal of Mr Godwin Obla from the trial.

Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) also announced his appearance for the defence.

However, before the matter could proceed for hearing, Okeke expressed his dissatisfaction with the delay in the case.

He pointed out that the EFCC had on several occasions, deliberately stalled hearing in the case.

"This matter has suffered series of adjournments, all at the instance of the prosecution.

"It is a deliberate attempt by prosecution to disrupt hearing in the case and blackmail this court.

"I hereby adjourn this case sine dire (indefinitely).

 "Whenever the prosecution is ready to diligently handle their case, hearing notices will be issued," Okeke said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ikuforiji is charged alongside his personal assistant, Alade Atoyebi, on a 20-count charge of money laundering.

The accused were alleged to have conspired between April 2010 and July 2011, to commit the illegal act.

They were alleged to have accepted cash payments amounting to N273.3 million from the Lagos State House of Assembly, without going through a financial institution.

Ikuforiji was also alleged to have misappropriated about N500 million of the assembly’s funds.

The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The accused had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

NAN reports that if convicted of the charges, the accused will be  liable to a term of imprisonment not less than three years.

At the last adjourned date, Obla had withdrawn his representation for the EFCC, stating that the dates picked by the court for continuation of the case conflicted with other engagements he had.

NAN  further reports that Okeke had earlier granted bail to Ikuforiji on self recognition, while Atoyebi was granted bail with the clerk of the LAHA standing surety.


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