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Judge’s Absence Stalls Ex-Lagos Speaker, Ikuforiji’s Trial

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The trial of a former speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, over alleged money laundering was on Monday, stalled because Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court did not sit.

The case which was first fixed for continuation of trial on November 15, could not proceed at the last adjourned date as the court did not sit and it was, consequently, fixed for November 20.

On Monday, the case also could not proceed as the court did not sit following a letter by defence counsel, seeking an adjournment of the case to a more convenient date.

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A new date is, however, yet to be communicated to parties.

Justice Liman, who presides over the case, had been transferred out of the Lagos division but still comes from his division to preside over the case following a fiat.

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Ikuforiji is charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi.

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They are being tried before on a 54-count bordering on alleged N338.8 million money laundering.

They had each pleaded not guilty and were allowed to continue on an earlier bail granted to them in 2012 when they were first arraigned.

On March 17, 2021, the EFCC had closed its case after calling the second witness for the prosecution.

Prosecution called a total of two witnesses in support of its case.

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Meanwhile, Justice Liman was later transferred out of the Lagos division and the case suffered several set backs.

On May 4, (this year) defence counsel Mr Dele Adesina SAN, opened the case for the defence and had began calling witnesses.

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Defence called three witnesses, including the first defendant (Ikuforiji).

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Among others, Ikuforiji had testified how he was being prosecuted on a faceless petition.

He had told the court that the instant case arose from a petition written by an unknown person, alleging that he had stolen about N7 billion from the Lagos House of Assembly.

The matter was consequently, fixed for adoption of written addresses

The case will now continue on the next adjourned date.

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The defendants were first arraigned on March 1, 2012 before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a 20-counts charge bordering on misappropriation and money laundering.

They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails.

The defendants were, however, subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba, following a re-assignment of the case.

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Buba had granted them bail in the sum of N500 million each with sureties in like sun

On Sept. 26, 2014, Justice Buba discharged Ikuforiji and his aide of the charges, after upholding a no case submission of the defendants.

Buba had held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima-facie case against them.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the EFCC, through its counsel, Mr Godwin Obla (SAN), filed the Notice of Appeal dated Sept. 30, 2014, challenging the decision of the trial court.

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Obla had argued that the trial court erred in law when it held that the counts were incompetent because they were filed under Section 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, which was repealed by an Act of 2011.

EFCC further argued that the lower court erred in law when it held that the provisions of Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and 2011, only applied to natural persons and corporate bodies other than the Government.

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The commission had also submitted that the trial judge erred in law when he held and concluded that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses supported the innocence of the respondents.

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In its judgement, the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court, in November 2016, agreed with the prosecution and ordered a fresh trial of the defendants before another judge.

Following the decision of the Appeal Court, the defendants headed for the Supreme Court, seeking to upturn the ruling of the Appellate court.

Again, in its verdict, the apex court also upheld the decision of the appellate court and ordered that the case be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.

According to the charge, EFCC alleged that the defendants accepted cash payments above the threshold set by the Money Laundering Act, without going through a financial institution.

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The commission accused the defendants of conspiring to commit an illegal act of accepting cash payments in the aggregate sum of N338.8 million from the House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

Ikuforiji was also accused of using his position to misappropriate funds belonging to the Assembly.

The EFCC said that the defendants committed the offences between April 2010 and July 2011.

The offences, according to the EFCC, contravenes the provisions of Sections 15 (1d), 16(1d) and 18 of Money Laundering Act, 2004 and 2011.

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Police Officer Caught Collecting Bribe On Camera Demoted

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The Imo State Police Command says its officer, identified as Inspector Isong Osudueh, who was caught on camera collecting bribes from motorists along the Owerri-Onitsha express road, has been demoted.

This was disclosed in a statement by the state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Henry Okoye, shared on X on Monday.

The video which went viral on Monday, showed the officer collecting money from drivers plying the road. He could also be seen handing them change whenever the need arises.

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According to the statement, Osudueh, who was attached to the Counter Terrorism Unit, Owerri, has been reduced in rank after facing disciplinary action. At the same time, the supervising officer has been issued an official query for lack of supervision.

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The statement said, “The Imo State Police Command is issuing this statement in response to a viral video making the rounds on social media where a Police officer was seen extorting money from motorists along Owerri-Onitsha express road.

“The erring officer, identified as Inspector Isong Osudueh, attached to the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Owerri, has been recommended for a reduction in rank after the necessary orderly room proceedings, for exhibiting such a shameful and unprofessional act, while the supervisory officer has been issued an official query for lack of supervision.”

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The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, had earlier condemned the officer’s actions as “bad and shameful” and confirmed his arrest and disciplinary action.

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‘This Is Bad And Shameful,’ Force PRO Condemns Viral Extortion Video

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The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, has reacted to a viral video of a police officer caught on camera accepting bribe from commercial bus drivers.

He described the officer’s action as bad and shameful adding that the officer has been arrested and subjected to disciplinary actions.

An X user, SKYPOND who tweets anonymously as Skypond_, shared the video with the caption, “This is why those gunmen waste them easily, they are never cautious of their environment. They throw every single caution into the wind. #Princemoye1, Ire o.”

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Reacting to the video Olumuyiwa wrote, “This is bad and shameful. I hate seeing videos and pictures like this. I have been informed that the policeman has been identified and arrested since a week ago. He has been subjected to disciplinary procedures. The PPRO Imo has been asked to react to this and make the command’s actions known. Thanks.”

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US-based Nigerian Set To Contest US Congress Seat

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A Nigerian-American man, Yomi Faparusi, has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Congress to represent Tennessee’s 5th District in the upcoming elections.

The election is scheduled for November 5, 2024.

Faparusi shared his aspirations during a virtual meeting with reporters over the weekend.

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He said his election victory will inspire future generations and serve as a unifying force for the country.

As a researcher, Faparusi stated that he is running for Congress because America is currently divided and weakened.

He emphasised that his victory would help unite Americans across various divides.

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Highlighting the issue of hyperinflation, he noted the increasing difficulty for people to survive and the disappearing middle class, which threatens the American dream.

He stated, “America is so divided and weakened because politicians now run on divisive and wedge issues. Hence, I decided to run as a unifier, so that things could get done. I also hope my victory in November will inspire the next generation.”

“There is inflation, making it hard to make ends meet; the middle class is disappearing, and the American dream is threatened. I want to tackle inflation. I want to create an environment that is conducive to small businesses, the most important unit of job creation.

“Congress is in stalemate, and nothing is getting done. I will work across the aisle for the common good. Americans are tired of cyclical threats of government shutdowns. Immigration is in total disarray. Open borders are not a policy; it only makes it hard to have a comprehensive plan. Immigration is not only a social issue; it is a financial/economic issue: you don’t have papers; you can’t get a job.

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He continued, “The reality is that most legislators would not entertain any immigration relief package unless the border is secure. Hence, we need to secure the border and get back with a bipartisan comprehensive immigration plan.

“I still have a political ideology. There is something called the advantage of incumbency, but incumbents lose, as I hope in November. The TN 5th district is ideologically diverse and it needs to be represented by someone who understands and appreciates this diversity. I will represent ALL the people, not just a partisan segment.”

He highlighted his experience as a business owner and negotiator, “I am a business owner and I know about job creation. Also, I have had to work with diverse stakeholders, hence I learned how to listen and be humble. These have allowed me to be a good negotiator in any forum. As an immigrant and now an immigration attorney, I know the practicalities of immigration,” he said.

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Speaking on his agenda, he said, “My agenda is ‘I care’. I care about your concerns and I want to go to Washington to serve you. I hope that you will give me a chance to represent you, and I will always be answerable to you, my constituents. I will advocate for your concerns and needs without fear of retribution because I have placed the people above the party. In the end, everything will be okay.”

Born in the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Faparusi’s ancestral hometown is Ode-Ekiti, Gbonyin LGA, in Ekiti State.

He graduated as a medical doctor from the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, where he was active in students’ union politics, serving as the Hall Chairman of Alexander Brown Hall.

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Faparusi is a licensed physician and attorney based in Tennessee, focusing mostly on immigration law. He fled Nigeria during the Abacha regime to escape persecution for his involvement in agitating against military rule.

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