Celebration of Justice: Ikuforiji Declared Innocent After 12 Years of Legal Battle

Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, claimed on Wednesday that the case against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) lasted over 12 years.

The former speaker, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to God for finally vindicating him after being unfairly indicted on 54 charges by the Anti-graft Agency years ago.

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It should be noted that on Monday, the Federal High Court in Lagos acquitted Ikuforiji of a 54-count money laundering allegation filed against him by the EFCC.

The Anti-graft Agency accused Ikuforiji and his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, with the same offense.

Ikuforiji said this on Wednesday at a press conference which took at Ikeja GRA residence, while narrating his experience after he was acquitted by the court, saying that was he was full of joy and praise to God.

“I am a very happy man, my joy knows no bound almost 48 hours now since the judgement was delivered. I am extremely grateful to God,” he said.

“To have gone through this for 12 and half years, it was a harrowing experience. I am a believer, I accept what Allah decreed,” he added.

The former speaker sadly recalled that for 12 and a half years, he suffered unnecessarily for an offense he never committed because a faceless petitioner wrote a petition alleging that the House under his leadership then “arm-twisted the Lagos State Government to pay N500m, and later, I was accused of embezzling N7 billion, that I made away with N500 million for 14 months.”

“I suffered excessively at that time; what was my offense, and what did I do? A nameless petitioner drafted a petition requesting that the House compel the Lagos State Government to pay N500 million, and I was later accused of embezzling N7 billion, claiming that I stole N500 million over 14 months,” he stated.

This was just as he described the development as “a very sad situation,” observing that the then State Assembly for the 10-year period that he was speaker was the best because of harmonious relationship as there was no time members threw papers at one another not to even talk chairs.

Besides, he said the persecution which he suffered for 12 and half years was uncalled for if after 10 years of being speaker and leading a progressive House that made progressive laws, such as passing the Freedom of Information Act, among others, that came people came from across the the federation to to ask how did we achieve that?

On how it started, Ikuforiji said he got a call from the Director of EFCC while going to Umrah to report at his office, but told him that he was going for Umrah and that he would honour the invitation on returning from his journey.

The former speaker said when he honoured the invitation after returning from Umrah on a Friday morning, he was made to spend the spent that weekend in EFCC’s cell, where he was shown the petition, which he immediately faulted due to fact that “the person that wrote it was faceless, no telephone number and the person wrote that I embezzled N7 billion.”

Ikuforiju, however, said he had to tell the EFFC not to bother because the buck stopped at his table when the Anti-graft Agency inquired of other members of the House, who could be invited for interrogation over the allegation.

 

“I spent that weekend in EFCC’s cell, they showed me the petition and I faulted it, the person that wrote it was faceless, no telephone number and the person wrote that I embezzled N7 billion,” he said.

This came as he quickly recalled that the EFCC officer even told him that the commission found nothing on his inquiry, which prompted the team leader to confess to him that since he joined the anti-corruption agency investigating government activities, the Lagos House of Assembly’s books had been the cleanest.

Ikuforiji stated that this prompted him to ask the officer what they should do next because they had seen nothing, and he disclosed to him that what they had discovered was that the House’s transactions were heavily cash-based.

The former speaker maintained that he suffered a lot of agony for 12 and half years, but expressed his appreciation to the media for their support, just as he lamented that some media houses deliberately blew the matter out of context, by saying he embezzled money.

 

Speaking further, he said the EFCC started with 200 charges and later trimmed them down to 54 counts, with no where he was accused of embezzlement.

 

“Today, we are grateful to God and at the end of it all, we have been vindicated. The honest thing is that in the Quran, even in the dark there is always an element of light. It was a painful and harrowing experience but today, I am also a barrister.

 

“This case was what pushed me towards studying law. My family suffered a great deal. Members of the House during the period I was their speaker stood by me. Most of them followed me to court and ensured that there was no sitting on some of the court days, I am grateful to them,” he said.

 

He also thanked those who prayed for him throughout the 12 and half years the case lasted.

 

“Today I am a free man, June 24, 2024 remains a second birthday to me because that was the day of my independence, the day I smelt freedom,” he concluded.