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Go face trial, court tells Belgore, others

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A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed a no-case submission filed by Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN).

Also dismissed was that of a former Minister of Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman.

Ruling on the two separate applications, Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the accused to open their defence.

They are facing a N450 million-fraud charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The defendants had argued in their applications that they have no case to answer in relation to the charges.

Justice Aikawa said he took the decision that they enter their defence, after a careful study of the prosecution’s case.

“I have read the facts of the case at my disposal and I have formed an opinion that the first and second accused have a case to answer.

“In the circumstances, I overrule the no-case submissions and it is hereby dismissed. The defendants should proceed to open their defence,” the judge ruled.

After the ruling, Belgore’s counsel, Seni Adio (SAN) drew the court’s attention to a motion dated January 16, 2018, asking the EFCC to furnish him with the complete set of his client’s statements to the commission.

He alleged that part of the statements written by Belgore was still with the EFCC, saying the production of the documents is vital to his client’s defence.

In his response, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, denied holding on to any of Belgore’s statements.

He alleged that the motion, which he claimed, was just served on him in court, adding that it was a ploy to prevent the defendants from opening their defence.

Justice Aikawa adjourned further hearing till April 30, and directed the EFCC to file a formal response to the motion.

The accused persons were on November 28, 2017, re-arraigned before the court by the EFCC, on an amended nine-count charge bordering on the alleged offence.

They however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In the amended charge, the EFCC alleged that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (said to be at large) conspired with Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million.


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