My lengthy trial was harrowing, but I’ve been vindicated – Former Lagos Assembly speaker

Former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji on Wednesday said he went through a harrowing experience during the over 12 years the case against him by the EFCC lasted.

But he thanked God that he has been vindicated 12 and half years after he was wrongfully charged on 54 counts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A Federal High Court in Lagos had on Monday acquitted Ikuforiji of a 54-count money laundering charge brought against him by the EFCC.

Ikuforiji was charged by the EFCC alongside his former Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi with a 54-count charge bordering on laundering N338.8 million.

Narrating his experience after he was acquitted by the court to newsmen in Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday, the former Speaker said he was full of joy and praise to God.

He said “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.”

“To have gone through this for 12 and half years, it was a harrowing experience. I accept what Allah decreed,” he added, saying that “but there is something as a man in flesh, you ask a second question, God is there and why will I have to go through this? For 12 years, I was at the House of Assembly and for 10 years I was Speaker and there was no time the lawmakers fought, the Lagos House was the best because of harmonious relationship.”

Ikuforiji stated that if after 10 years of being speaker and leading a progressive House and made progressive laws, such as passing the Freedom of Information Act and others, he was persecuted for 12 and half years for wrongful allegations, it is a very sad situation.

He added: “I suffered unnecessarily for that period, what was my offence and what did I do? A faceless petitioner wrote a petition that the the House 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.”

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.
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He said when he honoured the invitation after returning from Umrah on a Friday morning, “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.”

Ikuforiji said when the EFCC inquired of other members of the House, he told them that they should not bother because the buck stopped at his table.

“I spent the weekend there and I was released on bail, the EFCC officials came to the House of Assembly and combed the books for three months and saw nothing,” he explained further.

The former speaker said he asked the EFCC officer what he found, but was told that they saw nothing, adding that the leader of the team confessed to him that since he joined the anti-corruption agency investigating government activities, the books of the Lagos House of Assembly were the neatest.

Ikuforiji said he now asked the officer what next since they saw nothing, but said he was told they noticed that the transaction of the House was so much cash-base.

“I have suffered this agony for 12 and half years,” he said, thanking the media for their support, but lamented that some media houses deliberately blew the matter out of context, by saying he embezzled money.

He said the EFCC started with 200 charges and later trimmed them to 54 counts and that there was no where it was said he embezzled money.

“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.

Ikuforiji added that “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.”

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