Appeal Court orders new trial of former Lagos Speaker, Ikuforiji

Ikuforiji

The Court of Appeal in Lagos, has set aside the ruling of a Federal High Court that cleared former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide, Oyebode Atoyebi, of money laundering charges.

The court in a unanimous judgment set aside the verdict of the trial judge, Ibrahim Buba, holding that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had made a prima facie case against the accused.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Biobela Georgewill, the court also ordered that the trial should start anew before another judge other than Justice Buba, in light of the far-reaching findings already made by him.

Other members of the three-man panel include Justices Side Bage and Ugochukwu Ogakwu.

Justice Buba, had on September 26, 2014, discharged Messrs. Ikuforiji and Atoyebi of a 56-count charge of conspiracy and laundering the sum of N500 million belonging to the Assembly.

The trial Judge, who discharged the Speaker and Mr. Atoyebi, while ruling on a no-case submission filed by the accused persons, held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC through its counsel, Godwin Obla, filed the Notice of Appeal dated September 30, 2014.

Mr. Obla asked the Court of Appeal to hold that Justice Buba erred in law when he held that counts two to 48 were incompetent because they were filed pursuant to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which was repealed by an Act in 2011.

The EFCC further argued that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011 only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies other than government.

The commission also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.

Justice Georgewill, in his lead judgment, held that the offences created by Section 1 of the MLA 2004 and 2011 respectively were strict liability offences.

The judge also said that their proofs do not depend on the purposes the money was used for if the amount was above the threshold stipulated by law.

“Regrettably, the court below went on a voyage of its own, discussing cash payment of million made to the Super Eagles in Brazil, even without any scintilla of evidence before it, instead of remaining focused on the issue at hand.

“Does the fact that all persons likely to have committed a particular alleged offence have not been prosecuted become a reason for the court to decline jurisdiction of one of them being prosecuted? certainly not.

“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.

“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 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,” Justice Georgewill held.

(NAN)


DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD:Dr Dan,Suggest 5 Ways to Satisfy Your system and Last up 25Min In Bed When Having Sex, Click Here...


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • Dazmillion

    Very good judgment. But I would advise that since we are in the era of probing the judiciary, the EFCC and DSS should beam their search light on Justice Buba. This is especially important because Justice Buba throw out the case during the era of stealing is not corruption. Justice Buba may have some foreign currencies stacked away under his bed

    • ooesquire

      @Dazmillion:disqus

      Yes, kudos to this panel Appeal Court Judges for saving Nigeria its blushes.
      Of late there’s been no law in Nigeria – but reasonless nonsense from the courts.
      This same trial Judge excoriated here as a judicial truant – not in so many words though –
      was the self-same Judge who issued the nonsense diktat that SSS must never again arrest
      Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for investigation for funding terrorist activity in Nigeria notwithstanding
      any cogent evidence of sponsorship the SSS might have. Is that sort of creature a Judge of law?
      Does injunction lie against a State Security Agency to forbid it from investigating security breach?
      Nigeria has been sinking fast under the baleful weight of corruptive thoughts of Nigerian court Judges.
      Before the SSS raided and showed the proof that Justices of the Supreme Court are feeding on bribes,
      Nigerians were holding their noses at the court odours whenever a court case was scheduled for hearing.
      Nothing smells worse than the armpit of corrupt Judges who bathe in bribes and share from the loot of theft.