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N388.8m Fraud: Ex-Lagos Speaker Ikuforiji Accuses EFCC Of Prosecuting Him On ‘Faceless’ Petition

He said this through his counsel, Dele Adesina, SAN, at the resumed sitting on Thursday before Justice Muhammad Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Kuforiji said the initial allegations made against him by the prosecution was “fraud and misappropriation of funds.”

According to him, the prosecution, however, “later turned it to money laundering.”

He said: “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 committed a fraud or misappropriated the sum of over N7 billion.

“As a three-term Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, if I had, indeed, committed such an infraction, my case would not first get to the EFCC for trial, as members of the House would have dealt with me, by first impeaching me and handing me over to the law enforcement agency.

“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.”

Ikuforiji also responded to questions raised about the second defendant, Atoyebi, collecting any cash on his behalf, but he said: “Atoyebi collected money for the Office of the Speaker, where there were over 100 staff, and definitely not for me.”

However, the first defence witness, a retiree and former Deputy Clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ibisola Olawoyin Ogayemi, admitted knowing the defendants and that the Chief Accounting Officer of the House is the Clerk of the House.

According to him, “The Office of the Clerk and the Finance Department would then raise invoices and cheques.

“Subsequently, the bank would bring the cash to the Finance Department for disbursement in the presence of the bank’s officials and staff of the Department to the beneficiaries,” he said.

Also, the second defence witness, Kayode Motunrayo, a former Manager, First Bank, Agodi Branch, Ibadan, Oyo State, corroborated Ogayemi’s evidence.

He said: “When the bank received a cheque for payment from any government institution or agency, including the Oyo State House of Assembly, the bank would take the money down to the Finance Department of that Agency and carry out the disbursement in conjunction with the officials of the Finance department.”

Recall, Ikuforiji, alongside his former aide, Oyebode Alade, are facing trial on a 54-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N338.8 million.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Rt. Honourable Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji, and Oyebode Alade Atoyebi, sometime between April 2010 and July 2011 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired among yourselves to do an illegal act to wit: accepting various cash payments amounting in the aggregate to the sum of N338, 801, 442 (Three Hundred and Thirty-Eight Million, Eight Hundred and One Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Naira only) from the Lagos State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the EFCC.

The case was adjourned till June 1 and 2, 2023 for continuation of trial.

First Bank

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