Lagos - A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday discharged Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, who was tried for alleged money laundering.
Ikuforiji was charged alongside his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, on an amended 56-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on December 15, 2011 arraigned the duo before Justice John Tsoho.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In his ruling on a no-case submission by Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Tunde Akirinmisi on behalf of the accused, Justice Buba discharged the accused, describing the trial as a joke taken too far.
Buba held that it was difficult not to agree with the defence that the prosecution misconstrued the provisions of the Money Laundering Act by charging the accused under a repealed law.
He noted that it was the duty of the prosecution in a criminal case to establish all elements of the offence against an accused, adding that the prosecution failed to discharge this duty in the instant case.
The prosecution led by Godwin Obla (SAN) had closed its case on June 20 after calling two witnesses - Adebayo Adeniji, an Investigating Police Officer, and Adewale Olatunji, a former Clerk/Permanent Secretary of the House of Assembly.
Both witnesses had given various degrees of testimonies as to investigations conducted on the accused and activities of the House respectively.
After the close of the prosecution's case, Olanipekun had made an application for a no-case submission for Ikuforiji, arguing that the whole charge preferred against the accused amounted to mere witch hunting
The case was later transferred to Justice Okechukwu Okeke and the accused were re-arraigned on March 1, 2012.
Following the retirement of Okeke, the case was again transferred to Justice Buba and the accused re-arraigned on June 24, 2013.
Also read: Court adjourns Lagos Speaker trial
They had, however, pleaded not guilty to all counts, while Buba granted them bail in the sum of N1 billion each with two surety each in the sum of N500 million.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between April 2010 and July 2011.
They were alleged to have committed an illegal act of accepting cash payments of over N273 million from the House without going through a financial institution.
Ikuforiji was also accused of using his position to misappropriate about N500 million belonging to the legislature.
The offence, according to the EFCC, contravenes the provisions of Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.