There are allegations that the ACN attempted to bribe the judge presiding over the case.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, has denied that it is jeopardizing the corruption case against the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, as alleged by the Lagos State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The spokesperson of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, told PREMIUM TIMES in a phone conversation that the PDP’s allegation is untrue and politically motivated.
The Lagos state PDP, last Friday, in a statement accused the commision of being sympathetic to the speaker who is a member of the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Mr. Ikuforiji and his aides are being prosecuted for money laundering of N501 million.
The PDP said the EFCC prosecuting team is handling the case in a wishy-washy manner. It alleged that the trial has suffered up to four adjournments due to what it teamed “unbelievable disposition” by the commission’s lawyers.
“We strongly believe that the Speaker and ACN have the sympathy of the EFCC prosecution team as presently constituted, otherwise there won’t be indiscriminate calls for adjournment in a matter that the presiding judge, Okechukwu Okeke, is serious to dispense with on time,” Taofik Gani, the Lagos PDP’s Publicity Secretary, said.
However, Mr. Uwujaren said the commission would not allow “politically inclined” allegations to distract it from pursuing the case to an end.
“If a counsel is not present in court in a day is not enough reason to say he is not serious with the case,” he said.
“It is a top priority case for the commission. We are prosecuting the matter diligently and we don’t want to be distracted by anything that is politically inclined.”
Judge under pressure
A reliable source within the ACN who asked not to be named disclosed that Justice Okechukwu Okeke, the judge handling the fraud case involving Mr. Ikuforiji, has come under intense pressure from top echelon of the ACN in the state to throw the matter out of court in favour of the speaker.
According our source, Mr. Ikuforiji, has been anointed to run as the party’s next gubernatorial candidate. The party, our source says, is desperate to clear Mr. Ikuforiji’s name and had allegedly offered the judge N250 million to pass judgment in favour of him.
According to the source, the judge, set to retire from the bench next year, allegedly backed down from the deal after the party’s gesture was leaked.
But, in a telephone interview, the National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Lai Mohammed, dismissed the allegation as rubbish.
“It’s absolute bunkum. Some allegation are believable while others not. If you’re going to bribe a judge will you hold a meeting to do that? It’s absolute rubbish. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth one’s time to respond to some allegation. There is no iota of truth in it.”
He also said it is untrue that the Mr. Ikuforiji has been anointed as the party’s next gubernatorial candidate.
“I know my party very well. The election is three years away how can we anoint someone as our governorship candidate now?” he asked.
He hinted that the allegation might be from disgruntled member of his party.
“There is a lot of backstabbing and elbowing within the party. There could be many people within the house who could want him to go to jail so they can be speakers.”