The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday adjourned the money laundering trial of a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his then aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, till October 14, 2020.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must close its case on the next adjourned date.

Ex-Lagos Assembly Speaker, Ikuforiji Adeyemi

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Ekene Iheanacho, said he has only two witnesses to present.

Ikuforji and Atoyebi, trial re-opened on Wednesday with an EFCC investigating officer, Niyi Adebayo, testifying as to the first witness, Punch reports.

Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Adebayo told the court that the charges against Ikuforiji and Atoyebi stemmed from a petition received by the EFCC in June 2011, alleging that the ex-Speaker siphoned N500m monthly from the coffers of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Adebayo said in the course of the investigation, the EFCC visited the Assembly and recovered relevant documents from the office of the Clerk.

The investigator said, "We recovered some payment register, and when we went through them, we discovered that a lot of cash payments were made to the second defendant, and we invited him to explain why the payments were made to him.

"He told us that the payments were meant for the first defendant, and when we interrogated the first defendant, he confirmed that the second defendant was collecting the money for him."

Adebayo said the cash payments made to Atoyebi were above the threshold allowed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

Reading from exhibits before the court, the investigator said, "On April 27, 2010, N10m was collected in cash by the second defendant, while on May 6, 2010, the cash sum of N1.7m was also collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first."

Further proceedings were adjourned till October 14 with the judge stressing that the prosecution must bring their second witness and close their case that day.

Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were re-arraigned by the EFCC December last year on amended 54 counts bordering on alleged diversion and laundering of N388m belonging to the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Their re-arraignment before Justice Liman came about five years after they were discharged of the offence by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the same court in 2014.

In September 2014, following a no-case submission by their lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Justice Buba had discharged Ikuforiji and Atoyebi of the entire 56 counts filed against them by the EFCC. 

Not pleased with Justice Buba's decision, the EFCC went on appeal, resulting in the overturning of Justice Buba's verdict in November 2016 by the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court ordered that the case file be returned to the Federal High Court for the defendants to be tried afresh before another judge.

Dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal's decision, Ikuforiji and Atoyebi proceeded to the Supreme Court, but they lost, as the apex court affirmed the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal and sent them back for retrial at the high court.

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