These are not the best of times for Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, as a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday granted him bail in the sum of N1 billion with two sureties.
Another judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke who handled the case before his recent retirement had earlier granted the speaker bail on self recognition and admitted Atoyebi to bail with the clerk of the assembly as the surety.
However, Justice Ibrahim Buba said at Ikuforiji’s re-arraignment over alleged misappropriation and laundering of N773.3 million that he was not bound by the decision of Okeke, adding: “The case is beginning afresh before this honourable court; so, I have the absolute discretion on the issue of bail.
He said that the sureties were in the sum of N500 million each.
The judge equally granted bail in the same conditions to Adeyemi’s Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, who was arraigned along with him.
Anouncing his verdict, the judge said: “The accused are admitted to bail in the sum of one billion naira each with two sureties in the sum of N500 million each.
“The accused will be remanded in prison custody after 48 hours, if they fail to perfect their bail conditions,” Buba ruled.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned the accused on an amended 54-count charge. They were first arraigned on March 1, 2012 before Okeke on a 20-count charge.
Counsel to Ikuforiji, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), had urged the court to allow his client to continue with the bail granted him by Okeke on self-recognition.
Atoyebi’s Counsel, Tunde Akinrimisi, also prayed the court to uphold the bail granted his client by Okeke.
The applications were not opposed by the Prosecutor, Godwin Obla, who urged the court to exercise its discretion judiciously.
Obla informed the court of his readiness to proceed with trial.
Their trial had gone midway before Okeke adjourned the case sine die (indefinitely) due to Obla’s withdrawal.
The EFCC accused the speaker and his aide of conspiring to commit the offences between April 2010 and July 2011.
The commission said that they illegally accepted cash payments amounting to N273,303,780 million without going through a financial institution.
It also said that Ikuforiji used his position to misappropriate about N500 million belonging to the assembly.
The EFCC said that the offences contravened the Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
The court adjourned the case till Sept. 25 for trial.