A Federal High Court, Lagos, on Monday refused granting bail to the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, on personal recognition, following his re-arraignment along with his personal assistant, Mr. Oyebode Atoyebi, for alleged money laundering charges.
The former trial judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke (now retired), had earlier granted bail to Ikuforiji on self recognition, but Justice Ibrahim Buba, who newly took over the case, imposed a fresh N1bn bail on each of the accused on Monday.
Buba granted N1bn bail with two sureties in like sum for each of the accused. He also said each of the two sets of sureties must swear to an affidavit of means.
The judge initially imposed N5bn bail with two sureties in like sum but it took the intervention of counsel for the accused persons – Messrs Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and Tunde Akinrimisi – for him to reduce the bail sum to N1bn for each of the accused.
Both lawyers had pleaded that none of their clients was worth N5bn.
He however gave Ikuforiji and Atoyebi 48 hours ultimatum to meet the bail conditions or be remanded in prison pending when they would perfect the conditions.
Buba said he was not bound by the terms of the bail earlier granted to the accused by the former trial judge.
Both accused pleaded not guilty to the fresh 54 counts instituted against them by the EFCC. The fresh charges saw the money allegedly laundered increased from N500m to N673m.
Buba took over the case following Okeke’s withdrawal from the case and his subsequent retirement in May.
He said while imposing fresh bail conditions on Monday, “They will not be remanded in prison if they are able to perfect the bail conditions within 48 hours. But if they fail, a bench warrant will be issued against them.”
Shortly after the accused persons took their plea, Oyetibo had told the court that he had filed an application for bail out of caution.
He contended that they ought to have been granted bail ordinarily since it still had to do with the same charges and that the accused had never defaulted in attending their trials.
But EFCC’s counsel, Chief Godwin Obla, said he would leave the judge to apply his discretion, reiterating that his interest was in the commencement of trial.
The case was adjourned till September 25 for trial.