The defence wants the case dismissed for “lack of diligent prosecution”.
Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to strike out a charge of money laundering proffered against him.
Mr. Ikuforiji’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, made the request at the resumed hearing of the case before Justice Okechuckwu Okeke, following the absence of Godwin Obla, the prosecutor representing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The speaker and his personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, have been standing trial before the court since March 1, 2012, on a 20-count charge bordering on money laundering.
EFCC is not serious
Reacting to a letter by Mr. Obla informing the court of his absence, Mr. Oyetibo said that since the trial began, the prosecution had treated the case with much levity.
He claimed that several adjournments granted by the court had been at the instance of the prosecution, who had exhibited visible reluctance in the trial.
The defence counsel, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit for lack of diligent prosecution.
After listening to the submissions of Mr. Oyetibo, Mr. Okeke said he would adjourn the matter for overriding public interest. The judge, however, said that an order would be made for accelerated hearing of the case.
He, therefore, adjourned the case to April 8 to 19 for continuation of trial.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported on how the EFCC, through the actions of its lawyers, was frustrating the trial of the former speaker. The Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos had also alleged that the Commission had a secret pact with the speaker to frustrate the trial; a claim the commission denied.
The EFCC had told the court that the accused conspired between April 2010 and July 2011, to commit the alleged offences.
It alleged that the duo conspired to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments amounting to N273 million from the Assembly, without going through a financial institution.
The anti-graft commission also alleged that Mr. Ikuforiji used his position to misappropriate about N500 million belonging to the legislature.
The EFCC counsel said that the offences committed contravened Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.
The accused persons had each pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr. Okeke had granted Mr. Ikuforiji bail in self-recognition, while his personal assistant was admitted to bail with the Clerk of the LAHA standing as surety.