19th July, 2023
By Akin Kuponiyi
The presiding judge of a Federal High Court in Lagos, Justice Muhammad Liman on Tuesday fixed November 14, for the adoption of written addresses in the trial of former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, over alleged N338.8 million money laundering.
Justice Liman adjourned for adoption of written addresses by the two parties after the defence lawyer, Deacon Dele Adesina SAN tendered the Certified True Copy of court proceedings of 2014, before Justice Ibrahim Buba.
At the resumed hearing of the proceedings of today, the Defence counsel, Deacon Dele Adesina (SAN) recalled a witness, the former chief accountant of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adewale Olatunji for the purpose of tendering the Certified True Copy of the 2014 proceedings.
The court also admitted as exhibit, Olatunji’s statement made during interrogation with the EFCC.
Olatunji who was subpoenaed by the court, had earlier testified as the second Prosecution Witness in the trial.
At the last adjourned date on May 4, 2023, the former speaker during his examination-in-chief, had told the court that his trial was politically motivated.
Ikuforiji stated that the initial allegations made against him by the Commission was on fraud and misappropriation of funds, which the Commission later changed to money laundering.
He said “My Lord sir, I am still surprised that EFCC will charge anybody for money laundering, because the person collected money brought from bank to the treasury of the House of Assembly, which is an arm of government.
“It is a pity that I am standing trial today based on a faceless petition, that has no name or address of the writer, who alleged that I misappropriated the sum of over N7 billion. But, politicians for what we are when you stepped on toes, you’re bound to have many enemies.
“It is likely that I have a lot of enemies, and that is why we have this petition by an unknown writer. Who knows if the petition is from an individual and not from the EFCC itself.”
Ikuforiji stated that as a three term Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, if he had indeed committed such infraction, EFCC will not be the first to charge him, as members of the House would have dealt with him, by first impeaching him before handing him over to law enforcement agency.
Denying the allegation of money laundering, levelled against him, Ikuforiji said as the Head of the legislative arm of government, his role in any financial issue is to give final approval to memo put before him, after the Office of the Clerk and that of the Finance Department have done their worked on it.
“I don’t handle cash, or disbursement of funds, it is the duty of the Office of the Clerk and the Finance Department to do that,” he added.
When asked if the 2nd defendant, Oyebode Atoyebi, who was his personal assistant, did collect cash on his behalf, Ikuforiji said “Atoyebi collected money or cash for the Office of the Speaker, who at that time had over 100 staff, and definitely not for the Speaker in person. Atoyebi can collect money for the running of the office of the Speaker and allowances of other Staff.”
On the status of the employment of Oyebode Atoyebi, the former Speaker said Atoyebi being a staff of Lagos State Government was seconded to the office of the Speaker.