Alleged N450m Money Laundering: Dele Belgore, Ex-Minister Know Faith April 12

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dele Belgore, has told Justice Rilwan Aikawa of Federal High Court in Lagos, through his lead counsel, Ebun Shofunde (SAN), that he has no case to answer in the money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying the evidence of the prosecution amounts to hear-say evidence.

Similarly, a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, who is also the second defendant in the suit, filed a no-case submission application in response to the charges preferred against him.

At the resumed proceedings yesterday, the defence counsel, Shofunde and Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), urged the court to hold that the defendants have no case to answer.

They are urging the court to discharge them from the criminal trial.

Belgore and Sulaiman were alleged of collecting N450million from former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, as alleged bribe to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections in favor of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

They were accused of handling the huge sum of money without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that they acted contrary to sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

Oyedepo said in view of the exhibits tendered and overwhelming evidence pw1 and pw2, couple with the admission of first defendant in exhibit F and F2 that the defendants have no case to answer, the answer will be in the affirmative.

He urged the court that in view of all the unequivocal facts established against the defendants, it should call on them to enter their defence to enable the court place probative value on the evidence of both the prosecution and defence.

The duo were first arraigned on five counts on February 8, 2017.

The anti-graft agency subsequently amended the charges on two occasions, leading to the re-arraignment of the defendants.

The defendants pleaded not guilty on each occasion.

After calling two witnesses and tendering a number of exhibits, the EFCC closed its case against the defendants, leaving the floor for them to open their defence.

Oyedepo said the agency believed it had already established its allegations against Belgore and his co-defendant.

The trial judge, Justice Aikawa, adjourned till April 12, 2018, for ruling

In the five-count charge, which were eventually increased to nine, the EFCC alleged that Belgore and Sulaiman laundered the sum of N450million.

It claimed that they received the money from Alison-Madueke on March 27, 2015, to allegedly compromise the 2015 general election.

The anti-graft agency claimed that Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations of the University of Abuja, the former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, ought to have known that the money constituted proceeds of unlawful activities.

The EFCC claimed that the defendants paid N10million each to a Commissioner of Police, Garba Saliu, and a Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Emmanuel Onuche.

They were also accused of paying N50million to one Sheriff Shagaya; N61,656,000 to one Isa Biu and N87,962,000 to the duo of Sola Adeoti and Hajiya Farida Dankaka.

The commission allegedthat the cash payments were above the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

It said having handled the large cash sums without going through any financial institutions, Belgore and Sulaiman acted against sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

The prosecution said they are liable to be punished under sections 15(3)(4), and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.‎