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LAGOS SPEAKER, IKUFORIJI TO STEP DOWN

There are very strong indications that the embattled Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji many soon bow to pressures to step aside as speaker and face squarely his trial for corruption at a Federal High Court. This is as a result of intense pressures being mounted on the leadership of the ruling party in the state, Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), to look into the matter very well, so as not rubbish the name and image of the party, which Ikuforiji’s trial and possible liability could dent at the end of the day.

It would be recalled that the speaker, Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji and his Personal Assistant, Oyebode Alade Atoyebi were last Thursday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos, South West Nigeria, on a 20-count charge of transacting financial business without going through a financial institution. Their arraignment was at the instance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over alleged money laundering charges. The accused appeared before Hon. Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court.

Their arraignment was delayed till Thursday owing to the withdrawal from the case by Justice John Tsoho, who was presiding over the matter when it was first brought to the court by the anti-graft agency last year.

The development eventually led to the re-assignment of the case to Justice Okechukwu Okeke by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, EFCC’s lawyer, Godwin Obla, informed Justice Okeke of the existence of the charge, and urged that it should be read to the accused.

In the absence of any objection from the defence team led by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), the 20-count charge was subsequently read to the accused and they pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

After the arraignment, Oyetibo urged the court to grant bail to Ikuforiji on self recognition as the third citizen of Lagos State.

Even though EFCC’s counsel, Godwin Obla was not opposed to the request, he, however urged the court to impose conditions on the bail to be granted to the speaker’s aide.

In his ruling on the bail applications, Justice Okeke granted bail to Ikuforiji on self recognition while the ordered the clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Segun Abiru to stand as surety for the P.A.

Justice Okeke later adjourned the matter till Wednesday, March 21, 2012 for trial.

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