- Last Updated on 09 April 2013
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Plans by Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, Lagos to speed up the trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, over alleged financial impropriety suffered a setback Tuesday following the withdrawal of the Counsel to the Economic and Financial CrimesCommission (EFCC), Godwin Obla, in the case.
The case had suffered some delay over never-ending technicalities, during which time; the EFCC has been accused by the Speaker's counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, of foot-dragging and delay tactics.
A trial was supposed to continue on Tuesday so the judge could deliver judgment as early as possible since he is reportedly going on retirement.
When the case came up at the court, a representative of the EFCC, A. M. Yusuf informed the court of a letter written by Obla indicating that he was withdrawing as a representative of the EFCC in the matter.
According to Yusuf, the letter was filed and served on all parties on April 8, informing them of the withdrawal. He urged the court to grant three weeks adjournment to enable the anti-corruption agency to get another counsel to take over prosecution of the case.
Oyetibo, counsel to Ikuforiji as well as Tunde Akinrimisi, counsel to Ikuforiji's personal assistant, Bode Atoyebi, explained that Obla had exhibited a high level of indifference since the case began indicating that he was not surprised at the decision of the EFCC counsel.
Oyetibo and Akinrimisi, said from their assessment, Obla cannot say he effectively handled the case due to some of his posture, the unwarranted number of adjournments and his attitude to the case.
The two Defence counsels urged the court to dismiss the case against their clients saying the actions of the EFCC amounts to gross disrespect and contempt of the judicial process.
Justice Okeke, who agreed that the case had suffered several adjournments placing the blame on the prosecution, agreed to give the EFCC some time to sought things out and find a replacement for Obla. He therefore adjourned the case to April 24 at the instance of the EFCC.
Ikuforiji and Atoyebi are being tried for allegedly conspiring and accepting cash payments amounting to N273.3 million from the Lagos State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution, an offence punishable by the laws of the country since it contravenes the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
They were accused by the EFCC to have committed these transgressions between April 2010 and July, 2011.