Case Not Dismissed – Appeal Court Insists Former Speaker Must Be Re-tried
SAN FRANCISCO, November 30, (THEWILL) – The Court of Appeal in Lagos has upturned the ruling of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which acquitted former Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, of money laundering charges.
The appellate court which set aside Justice Ibrahim Buba's judgment in a unanimous verdict read by Justice Biobela Georgewill, ordered that Ikuforiji's trial should start afresh before another judge insisting that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made out a prima facie case against Ikuforiji.
“Regrettably, the court below went on a voyage of its own, discussing cash payment of millions made to the Super Eagles in Brazil, even without any scintilla of evidence before it, instead of remaining focused on the issue at hand,” Justice Georgewell ruled.
“I consider many of the issues raised so randomly by the court below as irrelevant and inconsequential to the just determination of the question before it, which is, whether the appellant made out a prima facie case against the respondents or not.
“Very worrisome to me, is the attitude of the court below, considering between the decision of this court and its own decision on which one to follow, even when its attention was called to the decision of this court.
“I find this attitude quite bizarre and not in sync with judicial attitude toward the time honoured doctrine of stare decisis. It is pure rascality, impertinence and disregard for judicial hierarchy in this country.
“In the light of my finding above, I have no difficulty resolving the sole issue for determination in the negative against the respondents in favour of the appellant.
“I hold firmly, therefore, that the appeal has merit and ought to be allowed. The ruling of the lower court is hereby set aside.
The Speaker and his were arraigned on an amended 21-count charge of money laundering but Justice Buba, in September 2014, upheld Ikuforiji's no-case submission and held that the prosecution did not prove the allegation.
He declared that the EFCC prosecuted Ikuforiji “by trial and error” and that the whole process was “a joke taken too far” because Ikuforiji was charged on a mere suspicion of money laundering anchored on a “baseless” petition by Lai Olotu, who “disappeared into thin air” afterwards.
Story by Oputah David