EFCC opens evidence in trial of ex-Lagos Speaker Ikuforiji

In continuation of the trail, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today called its first witness in the money laundering trial of former Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji of the Lagos State House of Assembly.

Ikuforiji is charged with N338.8 million money laundering.

Ag. EFCC Chairman, Mohammed Umar

He is facing trial alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on 54-count bordering on the offences.

They, however, pleaded not guilty before Justice Mohammed Liman and were allowed to continue on an earlier bail granted to them in 2012 when they were first arraigned.

In today’s hearing, Mr Ekene Ihenacho appeared for the prosecution while Mr Dele Adesina (SAN) appeared for the defendants.

The prosecutor called the first witness, Mr Adebayo Adeniyi, an investigator with the EFCC.

The witness told the court that he had worked with the commission for 15 years, adding that his schedule of duty included investigation, search and any other duty relating to investigation.

He told the court that he had worked in the Intelligence and Special Operations unit of the EFCC from 2009 to 2012 and also in the Economic Government Department from 2012 to 2016.

The witness said that in June 2011, a petition was written against the first defendant for allegedly siphoning N500 million monthly from the Lagos House of Assembly.

He said that the EFCC went into investigation and visited the House of Assembly in Lagos

He said that from the office of the Clerk of the House, EFCC recovered some documents which were instrumental to their investigation, while the clerk was invited to the commission.

EFCC operatives

“We recovered some payment registers, 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 actually confirmed that the second defendant was collecting the monies for him,” he said.

The prosecutor then showed the witness a bulk of documents and asked him to identify what they were.

In response, the witness identified pages one to 12 of the documents as being the statement of the first defendant, pages 13 to 24 as the statement of the second defendant, and pages 25 to 237 as other documents recovered from the clerk’s office.

The prosecutor then sought to tender the bulky document numbered 1 to 237 before the court.

Defence counsel did not oppose it.

The court admitted the statements of the first and second defendants as Exhibit A, B and B1.

The court admitted a search bundle as Exhibit C, a cash release register ETD as Exhibits D, a document tagged Chili Bulk 2010 E, and another bulk document as Exhibit E1.

The prosecutor then asked the witness to narrate to the court his findings from the investigation conducted.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor

According to the witness, the EFCC discovered that series of cash payments were made to the second defendant, which were above the threshold allowed by the Money Laundering Act.

When prompted to demonstrate portions of such payments, the witness said that in Exhibit E, from the transaction of April 30, 2010, the sum of N3 million was collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first.

“On April 27, 2010, N10 million was collected in cash by the second defendant, while on May 6, 2010, the cash sum of N1.7 million was also collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first,” he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Liman queried this pattern of examination by the prosecution, on the grounds that it was not the duty of the witness to “speak” to the document in the manner done.

The court noted that such manner of examination was only wasting the time of the court, since the prosecution would also speak on same document during addresses.

He urged parties to make progress in the case which, he also noted, had spanned a period of almost 10 years since 2011.

The prosecutor asked for an adjournment to enable him to do some arrangements of the documents to be tendered.

Defence counsel did not oppose the prayer for adjournment.

Justice Liman fixed Oct. 14 for continuation of trial.

The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012, before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a 20-count charge bordering on financial misappropriation and money laundering.

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