Alleged N450m fraud: You have case to answer, court tells Belgore
Written by Henry on April 12, 2018
The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday dismissed a no-case submission filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Belgore, in response to the money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Belgore’s co-defendant, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning, also lost a similar application, urging the court to discharge him and let him go.
Contrary to Belgore and Sulaiman’s contention, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, in his ruling, held that the EFCC had succeeded in making a prima facie case against them, saying they have a case to answer.
The judge ordered them to put in their defence, if they have any, against the allegations levelled against them by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had arraigned them on five charges, alleging that they collected N450m cash from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
They were accused of handling the huge sum 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 Belgore and Sulaiman acted contrary to sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The duo were first arraigned on February 8, 2017.
The EFCC 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 late last year, leaving the floor for them to open their defence.
But in response, Belgore and Sulaiman, through their lawyers, Mr. Ebun Shofunde (SAN) and Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
The court, however, dismissed the applications on Thursday, calling on them to enter defence.
“I hereby overrule the no-case submission made by the learned senior advocate. The first and second defendants may therefore wish to enter their defence,” Justice Aikawa held.