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Court acquits Lagos socialite of money laundering charges

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has acquitted a Lagos socialite, Akindele Ikumoluyi, of money laundering charges which the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) filed against him.

Justice Ibrahim Buba found him not guilty of the offence.

The judge discharged and acquitted the defendant of the six-count charge and agreed with the arguments of defence lawyer Wahab Shittu.

Ikumoluyi was initially arraigned for money laundering with his late mother, Funke, on a-six count charge, dated July 6, 2009.

They were accused of conspiracy to convert resources, conversion of resources, collaboration, concealment and disguising, contrary to Sections 14 and 17 of the Money Laundering Act.

The prosecution later withdrew the charge against Mrs. Ikumoluyi, who died in the course of the proceedings.

It initiated an amended charge on December 20, 2012, and later brought another amended charge on October 15, 2015, with Mr Ikumoluyi as the only defendant.

NDLEA said sometime in 1998 on Lagos Island, Ikumuluyi converted resources derived directly or indirectly from illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs by using them to acquire landed property at 6, Freeman Street, Lagos Island.

The prosecution said it was with the aim of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the resources.

He was also accused of concealing or disguising the ownership of a house at 7, Ajoku Oduyebo Street at Sabo in Ikorodu, Lagos State, by purchasing it in the name of Peter Ikumoluyi, a dead person, using resources derived directly or indirectly from the proceeds of illicit trafficking in narcotic.

Other properties he allegedly acquired and concealed include those at 20 Ikemu Street, Oworonshoki, Lagos in 2005 and at 35/37 Akerele Street, Oworonsoki, which he allegedly acquired in conspiracy with his late mum in the name of a the dead person in 2007.

He was also accused of acquiring a landed property at 11, Olaolude Street, Oworonsoki, Lagos, in 1994.

NDLEA accused him of knowingly refusing to make a full disclosure of his assets, which is contrary to Section 35(1) and punishable under Section 35(3) of the NDLEA Act of 2004.

Shittu argued that the burden of proof on the prosecution is only discharged when the essential ingredients of the offence has been established.

The lawyer argued that to sustain a conviction under Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004, it must be proven that the defendant converted or transferred resources; that the resources were derived from illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or any other crime or illegal acts, and that the conversion or transfer was done purposely to conceal or disguise the illicit origin of the resources.

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