Former Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, is to be retried over money laundering offence.
The Court of Appeal in Lagos, Wednesday, set aside a Federal High Court ruling which acquitted the former and his Personal Assistant Oyebode Atoyebi of money laundering charges.
The appellate court, in a unanimous verdict, set aside Justice Ibrahim Buba’s judgment.
It held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made out a prima facie case against Ikuforiji.
In the lead judgment by Justice Biobela Georgewill, the Court ordered that Ikuforiji’s trial should start de novo (afresh) before another Judge.
The justice said: “Regrettably, the court below went on a voyage of its own, discussing cash payment of millions made to the Super Eagles in Brazil, even without any scintilla of evidence before it, instead of remaining focused on the issue at hand.
“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 against the respondents or not.
“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 the 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.
Justice Buba, in September 2014, upheld Ikuforiji’s no-case submission and held that the prosecution did not prove the allegation.
The Judge said EFCC prosecuted Ikuforiji “by trial and error” and that the whole process was “a joke taken too far.’
“It is the considered opinion of this court that the prosecution, on the no-case submission, has no answer and has not made out a prima facie case.
“On other constitutional issues, the prosecution has not also answered the submissions referred to in this ruling. Consequently, the first and second accused be and are hereby discharged,” Justice Buba ruled.
The Speaker and his aide Oyebode Atoyebi were re-arraigned on an amended 21-count charge of money laundering.
They were accused of accepting cash payments amounting to N338.8 million from the House without going through a financial institution.
Justice Buba held that Ikuforiji was charged on mere suspicion of money laundering anchored on a “baseless” petition by Lai Olotu, who “disappeared into thin air” afterwards.