A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, on Thursday, told the Federal High Court in Lagos that the N338.8m money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were politically motivated.
Ikuforiji made the statement while defending himself in a no-case submission filed before Justice Muhammad Lima.
“It is a pity that I am standing trial today based on a petition that has no name or address of the writer, who alleged that I committed fraud or misappropriated the sum of over N7bn,” Ikuforiji told the court.
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The ex-three-term Lagos Speaker argued that if he had indeed committed the alleged crime, the House of Assembly would have first impeached him before taking his case to the EFCC.
Ikuforiji further stated that as the head of the legislative arm of government in Lagos, his role in any financial issue was to give final approval on any memo put before him, after the office of the clerk and that of the finance department had done their bits.
“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,” he said,
Asked if the second defendant, Oyebode Atoyebi, who was his personal assistant, collected cash on his behalf, Ikuforiji said, “Atoyebi collected money or cash for the office of the Speaker, who at that time had over 100 staff members, and not for him in person. Atoyebi could collect money for the running of the office of the Speaker and allowances of other staff.”
While answering a question on the status of Atoyebi’s employment, Ikuforiji said Atoyebi, being a staff of Lagos State, was seconded to the office of the Speaker.
Also testifying in the case, a former Deputy Clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ibisola Ogayemi, explained to the court that the Assembly Clerk operates as the chief accounting officer of the House.
On the modalities for financial transactions in the House, the retiree said after the office of the Clerk and that of the finance department had done the paper works, they would send it to the Speaker for approval, and after his consent, the documents would be returned to them.
He added that on the return of the documents, the Office of the Clerk and the Finance Department would raise invoices and cheques, and subsequently, the bank would bring the cash to the finance department for disbursement in the presence of bank officials and staff of the department to the beneficiaries.
Another witness, Kayode Motunrayo, a former branch manager at First Bank, Agodi Ibadan, also testified in the case.
Further proceedings in the matter were adjourned till June 1 and 2.
The EFCC first arraigned Ikuforiji and Atoyebi in 2012 on 54 counts bordering on money laundering.