Prosecution of ex-minister, senior advocate adjourned to March 23
The trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Belgore, who was accused of laundering N450 million, has been adjourned till March 23, 2017. The silk is standing trial at the Federal High Court, Lagos alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman.
On the next adjourned date, the trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, is expected to rule on the admissibility of the third document sought to be tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the case.
The document is a list of individuals who benefited from the $115,010,000 which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly deposited in Fidelity Bank Plc with subsequent instruction to change it to naira and share among some individuals in the 36 states of the federation.
The first prosecution witness, Mr. Timothy Olaobaju, had on Monday told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman were among the beneficiaries of the sum.
The witness told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman jointly received N450 million on March 27, 2015. At the yesterday’s proceedings, Sulaiman’s counsel, Mr. Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), opposed the move by the prosecution to tender the list as an exhibit in court.
Ayanlaja argued that the document did not completely comply with the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act and urged Justice Rilwan Aikawa to reject it.
However, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the document had substantially satisfied the conditions spelt out in Section 84 of the Evidence Act, and urged the judge to admit it.
After entertaining arguments from both parties, Justice Aikawa deferred his ruling till the next adjourned date. Meanwhile, the defence counsel commenced the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness yesterday.
Under cross-examination by Belgore’s counsel, Chief Ebun Shofunde (SAN), the witness said the N450 million received by Belgore and Sulaiman was brought in a bullion van from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).