The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday closed its case in the money laundering trial of former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji.
Subsequently, Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos fixed March 24 for Ikuforiji to open his defence in the alleged money laundering charges preferred against him.
Justice Liman set the date after hearing the evidence of the second and final witness, Adewale Taiwo Olatunji.
Ikuforiji is standing trial alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, on 54 counts bordering on the alleged offences.
They pleaded not guilty before Justice Liman last December 11 and were allowed to continue on a N500 million bail granted to them in 2012 when they were first arraigned.
Liman’s ruling followed an application by Ikuforiji’s counsel, Mr Dele Adesina, SAN, for a short date to either open defence or file a no-case submission.
The judge granted his prayer for the former.
Olatunji, 70, identified the former speaker and his personal assistant in the dock.
He recalled receiving two letters from the EFCC; the first concerned the agency’s intention to investigate the HoA’s financial dealings. The second was an invitation to him to appear before the Commission in relation to the investigation.
“When they came, I directed staff of house to cooperate with them and give them what they required,” Olatunji said, adding that he later honoured the invitation at the EFCC’s Abuja headquarters.
The witness confirmed that he was aware that the EFCC officials demanded for and were given documents.
“The documents were majorly cash registers,” he said.
Upon being shown one of the documents – which were in the courts possession as exhibits – the witness Identified same as a certified true copy of a cash register forwarded to EFCC by the HoA.
“Cash registers were majorly to record cash transactions,” Olatunji told the judge.
Responding to a question by Iheanacho, he confirmed that in his time, the HoA had five accounts, but could not recall all of them.
“It was a long time ago. We had WEMA Bank, Equitorial Trust Bank, Skye Bank, which had two accounts,” Olatunji said, adding that he was not aware if any of the banks had branches within the HoA complex in Alausa.
Iheanacho: “Who approved payments in the exhibits?
Olatunji: “The Speaker had power to approve. Speaker approved all expenditures above N50,000. The Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji was the Speaker at the time.”
Iheanacho: “Thats all for the witness.”
During cross examination by Adesina, the witness summarised his testimony.
Adesina: “All you’ve said concerning the first defendant is that he was the speaker and approving authority.
Adesina: “The banks you mentioned, did they have branches within Alausa?
Witness: “I wouldn’t know.
Adesina: “The House of Assembly and state secretariat are in same vicinity of Alausa?”
Adesina: “You made a statement in respect of this matter with the EFCC?
Adesina: “That will be all for this witness.”
Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, discharged both men of the same allegations in 2015 on the ground that they had no case to answer.
But the lower court’s decision was reversed by the Supreme Court, following which Ikuforiji and Atoyebi were last December 11 re-arraigned by the EFCC before Justice Liman.