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Trial Of Lagos Speaker, Ikuforiji Stalled Again
The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, could not proceed on Tuesday due to the appearance of a new defence counsel, Wole Olanipekun.
Ikuforiji is standing trial along with his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, at a Federal High Court, Lagos, on an amended 54 count charge bordering on money laundering of N600 million.
Olanipekun informed the court that he was taking over from Tayo Oyetibo and that he needed more time to get acquainted with the case files.
“My lord, when a new counsel comes into a case it is natural for him to study the files and know the parties. Criminal trial is a serious business and I must say that I am faced with a `mountain of documents’ to peruse, some of which were just served on us yesterday,” he said.
He therefore appealed for an adjournment of the case to enable him properly study the files.
The prosecutor, Godwin Obla, did not object to Olanipekun’s request for an adjournment.
Justice Ibrahim Buba, in a short ruling, adjourned the case to March 17 for further hearing.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had re-arraigned the defendants on June 24, 2013 on the amended charges.
Both Ikuforiji and Atoyebi had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail in the sum of N1 billion with two sureties each in the sum of N500 million.
On November 21, 2013, the prosecution opened its case by calling on its first witness, Adebayo Adedeji, a police investigator, who testified on how Ikuforiji allegedly approved various sums from the house funds for himself.
It was alleged that the duo conspired between April, 2010 and July 2011 to commit “an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3 million’’ from the assembly without going through a financial institution.
Obla also alleged that Ikuforiji used his position to misappropriate about N500 million belonging to the House, adding that the offences contravened Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.