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Lagos ex-speaker Ikuforiji acquitted in money laundering case

Adeyemi Ikuforiji served as the Lagos State House of Assembly speaker from 2005 to 2015.

Adeyemi Ikuforiji. [Facebook]

Justice Mohammed Liman dismissed the charges brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He ruled that the prosecution did not meet the legal burden of proof required.

Ikuforiji and his co-defendant had pleaded not guilty and were allowed to remain free on bail initially granted in 2012.

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After presenting two witnesses supporting its allegations, the EFCC concluded its case on March 17, 2021.

Meanwhile, Justice Liman was later moved from the Lagos division, causing several delays in the case.

On May 4, 2023, defence counsel Dele Adesina (SAN) began presenting the defence’s case.

Three witnesses, including the first defendant, Ikuforiji, testified. Ikuforiji explained that he was accused based on an anonymous petition alleging he embezzled approximately N7 billion from the Lagos House of Assembly.

Both parties presented final arguments on May 17, and the court reserved judgment.

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In delivering the verdict on Monday, Justice Liman first dismissed the first charge due to inconsistencies in the timeline. The court then raised a crucial question about the applicable law during the time of the defendant’s charges.

The court held that “Charging a person under a law that was non-existent at the time of an alleged offence runs foul of the law.

“The Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2004/2011 requires clear evidence of intent and the actual act of laundering money.

“It is difficult to prove the offence of money laundering without the predicate offence; the prosecution has failed to prove this.

“The prosecution has not proved the offence of money laundering beyond a reasonable doubt.

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“Consequently, the defendants are acquitted of all the allegations of money laundering levelled against them in courts two to 54 of the charge.”

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