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Unavailability of exhibits stalls ex-Lagos speaker’s money laundering trial

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Unavailability of exhibits stalled the money laundering trial of a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, at the Federal High Court on Wednesday.

Justice Mohammed Liman subsequently adjourned the trial till March 18.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the former speaker for allegedly laundering N338.8 million.

He was arraigned on a 54-count charge of money laundering alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi.

The duo, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and Justice Liman allowed them to continue on bail earlier granted them.

The defendants’ trial which was slated to resume on Wednesday did not go ahead due to unavailability of exhibits.

The judge had called the prosecution and defence counsel into his chamber.

The counsel had said that exhibits to be used in the trial were unavailable, as the case had gone on appeal even to the Supreme Court.

The prosecution said it had written to the Supreme Court on the exhibits and was still awaiting the apex court’s response.

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

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.

However, the defendants were subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba, following the re-assignment of the case.

Justice Buba granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with sureties in like sum.

In September 2014, the judge discharged Ikuforiji and his aide of the charges, after upholding a no-case submission by the defendants.

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He held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC through its counsel, Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN), filed a notice of appeal dated September 30, 2014, to challenge the court’s decision.

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