The trial of former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was stalled on Wednesday based on the directive of the Chief Judge of the state that new trial should not be open until further notice.
Justice John Tsoho had issued the directive in January, which have been delaying all new cases slated for trial.
Justice Mohammad Liman directed his registrar to adjourn the case to September 30 after the annual vacation.
The adjournment was in differences to section 396(3)(4) provision of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 that says that upon arraignment of a defendant, trial shall be from day to day or where it is not practicable, it should not exceed two weeks.
The lawyer to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ekele Iheanacho, expressed displeasure to the registrar that the annual vacation of court starts in July but the registrar replied that it was a directive from Justice Liman.
Ikuforiji and Atoyebi are facing 54 counts bordering on alleged diversion and laundering of N338m belonging to the Lagos State House of Assembly.
They were re-arraigned before Justice Liman in December 2019, five years after they were earlier discharged of the offences by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the same court in 2014.
In September 2014, following a no-case submission by their lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, PUNCHreported that Justice Buba had discharged Ikuforiji and Atoyebi of the entire 56 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Not pleased with Justice Buba’s decision, the EFCC had gone on appeal, resulting in the overturning of Justice Buba’s verdict in November 2016.
The appellate court ordered that the case file be returned to the Federal High Court for the defendants to be tried afresh before another judge.
Dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal’s decision, Ikuforiji and Atoyebi proceeded to the Supreme Court but they lost as the apex court affirmed the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal and sent them back for retrial at the high court.
Upon their re-arraignment before Justice Liman, they pleaded not guilty.