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EFCC Begins Prosecution Of Lagos Speaker on Money Laundering

Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji

Ruth Bamidele, Lagos

The Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Mr. Oyebode Atoyebi, has been accused of involving in 57 illegal cash transactions which amounted to money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday

Lagos Speaker Hon Ikuforiji Adeyemi

Lagos Speaker Hon Ikuforiji Adeyemi

During the trial on Thursday, EFCC investigator and first prosecution witness,  Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo,  said the cash transactions were above the threshold prescribed by the Money Laundering Act and contravened Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The accused are being prosecuted by the EFCC  for allegedly receiving over N600m from the Lagos State House of Assembly without passing through a financial institution between April 2010 and July 2011.

Led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), Adebayo said the anti-graft agency in June 2011 received a petition which “was a complaint of siphoning of public funds against the first accused person (Ikuforiji).”

The witness, further  told the court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba that investigation conducted by his team, revealed that “57 cash transactions” were involved in the charges.

He said, “We received documents from the Lagos State House of Assembly  Cash Release Registers. On analysing the documents, we discovered that various amounts of money were released to the second defendant (Atoyebi) on behalf of the first defendant (Ikuforiji). On further analysis of these documents, we also discovered that the cash releases were above the stated threshold in the Money Laundering Act.”

Adding that when the Speaker, Atoyebi and other concerned members and personnel of the House of Assembly was confronted with the allegation, they admitted in their various statements to the EFCC that the cash transactions actually took place.

Upon an instruction from Obla, Atoyebi read a portion of a statement dated October 28,  2011 credited to Ikuforiji, who was quoted to have confirmed that Atoyebi “properly delivered” the money to him.

The Speaker was also quoted as saying “cash payment has always been the tradition of the House”  due to the fact that what money was usually being used for, such as “reservation for trips are usually done at the last minute and there are no rooms for cheque transactions”.

Adebayo further said, “We called on Mrs. Toyin Atekoja, who is in charge of paying the money to the beneficiaries, she confirmed that all the money was paid in cash. She admitted paying the cash to the second defendant (Atoyebi) in all the occasions.

“I also confirmed from the then clerk of the House, who is the accounting officer of the House, Mr. Taiwo Olatunji. He also confirmed that this money was released in cash to the second defendant.

The two statements dated September 2, 2011 and October 28, 2011 which were credited to the Speaker; and two others dated September 21, and October 12, 2011, credited to Atoyebi were admitted as exhibits. Cash Release Registers and other documents from the Account Section of the Lagos State House of Assembly were also admitted as exhibits.

Counsel for the Speaker, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), and Atoyebi’s lawyer, Mr. U. Adindu, did not oppose to the tendering of the documents.

Among members and personnel of the House of Assembly interrogated by the EFCC, according to Adebayo, are the Deputy Speaker, Kolawole Musibau; Akerele Kayode, Tijani Maruf, Abdulrasaq Balogun, Ajibade Adeyeye, Lola Akande, Bolaji Yusuf, Lambo Abosede, Lawal Morenike and Sanni Azeez.

The matter was adjourned to December 2 for continuation of trial when the court room, according to the judge, became “unbearable” due to power outage.

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