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COURT TO RULE ON LAGOS SPEAKER'S APPLICATION ON JULY 5

By NBF News
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A Federal High Court, yesterday, fixed July 5 to rule on an application by the Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, asking it to quash the money laundering charges filed against him.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, before Justice Okechuwku Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on a 20-count charge of corruption. The court fixed the date after counsel on both sides had made their submissions.

While canvassing for his application, Ikuforiji's lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) cited Section 318 of the Constitution saying the Speaker of the House of Assembly was part of government and only exercised the power by transacting business on behalf of government.

He submitted that a careful look at the charge would show that the EFCC never said the Speaker stole money.

In his reply, EFCC counsel, Godwin Obla, argued that the defence ought to have raised objection to the charges during the arraignment in accordance with Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA). He held that their failure to do so was fatal to their case.

However, Oyetibo insisted that EFCC was unable to answer the issues raised by the defendants in the motion to nullify the charges. He added that Obla's submission was misconceived and not supported by law, arguing that Section 167 of the CPA cited by the commission only dealt with formal defects on the face of the charge. Oyetibo pointed out that the motion to quash the charge was based on the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate on the case against the accused persons under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011.

The defendants had in a motion on notice brought under Sections 2, 3, 4, 92, 251 and 252 of the Constitution prayed the court to quash the charges or strike it out for lack of evidence. They had stated that EFCC's failure to establish prima facie evidence against them robbed the court of jurisdiction to try them.