Embattled former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji and his aide, Olabode Alade Atoyebi, have filed a notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, challenging the verdict of the Court of Appeal.
Ikuforiji recorded a setback last week when the appellate court overturned his acquittal by a Federal High court over a N500million money laundering charge slammed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In the notice of appeal filed before Lagos Division of Appeal Court, the duo through their lawyer, Barrister Abiodun Onidare, separately asked the apex court to set aside the whole ruling of the Appeal Court.
In the said notice of appeal, the appellants described the Appeal Court’s decisions as unreasonable and unwarranted judging with the body of evidence and materials on record.
Ikuforiji and Oyebode are urging the Supreme Court, to uphold their no case submissions as upheld on 26 September, 2014 by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, in Lagos.
They also want the apex court to dismiss the Appeal Court’s decision.
The Lagos division of Court of Appeal, last week unanimously trashed the ruling of the Federal High Court that discharged Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode of a 56 count charge of conspiracy and laundering of N500 million belonging to the Assembly, an offences which the EFCC said contravened sections 15 (1d) and 16(1d) of Money Laundering Act, MLA, 2004 and 2011.
The appellate court held that the EFCC had established a prima facie case against the former Speaker and his personal assistant, to require them to enter a defence to the charge brought against them.
Justice Biobela Georgewill, who delivered the verdict also ordered that trial should start afresh before another judge of the Federal High Court, in the light of the far-reaching findings already made against Buba’s position.
Other members of the three-man panel are: Justice Side Dauda Bage and Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu.
Justice Buba who discharged the Speaker and Atoyebi, while ruling on a no case submission filed by the duo, held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against the accused persons and also failed to proof any of the ingredients of the crime of money laundering.
However dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC through its counsel, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) asked the Court of Appeal to hold that Justice Buba erred in law, when he held and concluded that counts 2-48 are incompetent, because they were filed pursuant to Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 which said law was repealed by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
The EFCC further argued that the lower court erred in law, when it held that the provision of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011 only applies to natural persons and corporate bodies other than government; like the office of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
The commission also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when it held and concluded that the case 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 are strict liability offences and that their proof does not depend on the approval and purposes the money was used for, once the amount is above the threshold amount and was not paid or received through a financial institution either by an individual or a body corporate.