By Innocent Anaba
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has brought an amended five count charge against the former Kwara State gubernatorial candidate of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Dele Belgore, SAN, the former Minister of Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman and former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke.
At the resumed trial of Belgore and Sulaiman on the former charge, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court of a five count amended charge, where the name of former Petroleum Minister was conspicuously mentioned and urged the court to allow the amended charge be read to Belgore and Sulaiman, for their pleas to be retaken.
The application was not opposed by the accused persons’ lawyers.
Consequently, the court granted the application.
In the five count charges, Diezani was alleged to have conspired with Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act.
They trio were also alleged to have taken the said funds in cash, which exceeded the amount authorized by law, without going through the financial institutions.
Belgore and Sulaiman were also alleged to have paid the sum of N50 million to one Sheriff Shagaya, without going through the banks.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Oyedepo, are contrary to Sections 18(a)15(2)(d),1(a), 16(d) and punishable under sections 15(3) and 4, 16 (2)(b), and 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Upon the plea of the accused persons being taken, the first prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, a banker was called.
In his evidence, the witness, Olaobaju, while being led by the prosecutor, informed the court that sometime in April 2014, his Managing Director gave them directives that certain individuals and companies will be sending money into some account and that the purpose of such money was not made.
The witness stated that over the period the money which amounted to $115.010 million was paid into the account.
He stated that in March 27, 2015, there was instruction from the former Petroleum Minister to the bank that the money which was in USD be converted to Naira and be paid to some beneficiaries which include Belgore and Prof. Sulaiman, and that the Minister’s instructions were fully complied with.
The witness also told the court that both Belgore and Sulaiman, who are not customers to the bank received the sum of N450 million and filled the receipt of payment form to acknowledge receipt.
The form filled by the accused persons were tendered and admitted as exhibits 1 and 1a.
The witness further told the court no cheque was issued in releasing the money, and that the the accused persons signed the form on March 26, 2015 and received the collected the money on March 27, 2015.
However, lawyers to the accused persons, which includes; Mr. B. O. Shofunde, Mr. Charles Edosanwa, Mr. Seni Adio, and lawyer to Sulaiman, Chief O Ayanlaja, Ladi Rotimi-Williams, and Olatunde Busari, all SANs, pleaded with the court for adjournment for the cross-examination of the witness.
Consequently, the court adjourned the matter till today, for cross-examination of the witness and continuation of trial.
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