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The first prosecution witness, PW1, Adebayo Adeniyi, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, told Justice Muhammed Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikufori, diverted the sum of N14.7m through his aide and co-defendant, Oyebode Alade.
Both Ikuforiji and Alade were re-arraigned on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 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, thereby leading to their trial.
At the resumed hearing on September 30, Adeniyi, in his testimony, said he had worked with the Commission for 15 years, adding that his schedule of duty included investigation, search as well as any other duty relating to investigation.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, Adeniyi also told the court that, in June 2011, a petition was written against the first defendant for allegedly siphoning the sum of N500million monthly from the Lagos House of Assembly.
According to him, upon receipt of the petition, the EFCC commenced investigation and subsequently visited the office of the then Clerk of the House of Assembly in Lagos, where relevant documents were recovered.
The PWI, who said the development led to the Clerk being invited to the Commission, further stated that “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. So, we invited him to explain why the payments were made to him.
“He told us that the payments were meant for the first defendant.
“When we interrogated the first defendant, he actually confirmed that the second defendant was collecting the monies for him.”
When the prosecution counsel, Iheanacho, asked the witness to identify a bulk of documents, he( 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.
Iheanacho then sought to tender the documents before the court, which the defence counsel, Dele Adesina, SAN, did not oppose.
Consequently, the court admitted the statements of the defendants as exhibits A, B and B1.
The court also admitted a search bundle as exhibit C, a cash release register ETD as exhibits D, a document tagged “Chili Bulk 2010 “as exhibit E, and another bulk document as exhibit E1.
When asked to narrate his findings from the investigation, the witness told the court that the EFCC discovered that a series of cash payments were made to the second defendant, which were above the threshold allowed by the Money Laundering Act.
The witness said that in exhbit E, which contains then the transaction of April 30, 2010, the sum of N3 million was collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first defendant, adding that “On April 27, 2010, N10 million was collected in cash by the second defendant; and on May 6, 2010, the cash sum of N1.7 million was also collected by the second defendant on behalf of the first defendant.”
At this juncture, the court urged the parties to make progress in the case, which he said had spanned a period of almost 10 years since 2011.
In view of this, Iheanacho asked for an adjournment to enable him arrange the documents to be tendered.
The defence counsel, Adesina ,did not oppose the prayer of the prosecution counsel for adjournment.
The case was adjourned to October 14, 2020 for continuation of trial.
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