Lagos chief remanded in custody for ‘forgery’

Chief Olajide Ikuforiji of Epe has been remanded in prison after he was declared wanted by a Federal High Court in Lagos for failing to appear to answer a forgery case.

Chief Olajide Ikuforiji of Epe has been remanded in prison after he was declared wanted by a Federal High Court in Lagos for failing to appear to answer a forgery case.

Justice Abdul-Azeez Anka issued the order after revoking his previous bail and granting new bail conditions.

Ikuforiji, the elder brother of the former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, is currently on trial for two counts of alleged forgery and the dissemination of counterfeit documents.

The Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) personnel, Ikoyi, Lagos, had previously arraigned him before the court sometime in 2018.

The court granted the prosecutor’s request for a bench warrant when the defendant failed to attend during the middle of the trial.

Today, during the resumption of the charge hearing, the defense lawyer, K. S. Lawal, informed the court that he had two pending applications that were ready to be heard.

Lawal informed the court that one of the motions requested the court to vacate the earlier arrest warrant issued against his client. In contrast, the second motion asks the court to vacate the earlier order dismissing the defendant’s case due to his prolonged absence to open his defense or file a written defense.

In his opposition to the hearing of the two petitions, however, the prosecutor, Mr. Chukwu Agwu, informed the court that he was only served with an advance copy of the motions at the courthouse. As such, the applications still need to be prepared for the hearing.

On the motion to quash the bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest, the court revoked the defendant’s previous bail conditions after a lengthy argument and the defendant’s inability to clarify the actual status of his sureties. It issued him new bail conditions with new terms.

The defendant was charged with violating section 2(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

According to one of the charges, Ikuforiji allegedly fabricated the Minutes of the Emergency Meeting of the Eko Epe Forum, which was convened on October 20, 2022, at the residence of Otun Mogaji of Epeland.

Therefore, following the defendant’s arraignment, the trial continued before Justice Abdul-Azeez Anka, and the prosecution rested its case after presenting four witnesses and various pieces of evidence.

The trial judge, Justice Anka, then postponed the defendant’s opening statement.

However, instead of presenting a defense, Ikuforiji submitted a no-case submission, which the court eventually rejected.

The defendant, dissatisfied with the court’s judgment, appealed the dismissal of his no-case submission in a case with the designation CA/L/1447c/2028.

On July 23, 2020, when ruling on the defendant’s appeal, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision and ordered the defendant to return to the lower court to present his defense.

Despite the issuance of a hearing notice dated December 22, 2020, requiring him to appear in court, the defendant had refused to attend his trial since September 2020, despite being directed to do so by the appeal court’s judgment. At the same time, it has been impossible to locate him since January 20, 2021, despite all efforts.

The prosecutor, Barrister Agwu, requested a bench warrant for his arrest, which the court granted, but the police could not apprehend him.

In accordance with section 352 (sub 4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the prosecution requested that the defendant be prosecuted in absentia on June 13, 2022, and the trial court granted the application.