N450M Deziani Money To Belgore Came In Bullion Van From CBN—Witness
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today adjourned till March 23, 2017 for the continuation of the trial of former gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara state, Mr. Dele Belgore, SAN currently accused of laundering N450million
The second accused in the matter is former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman.
The trial judge justice Rilwan Aikawa will on the next adjourned date rule on the admissibility of the third document sought to be tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The document is a list of individuals, who benefited from the sum of $115,010,000, which former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly deposited in Fidelity Bank Plc with later instruction to change it to naira and share it among some individuals in the 36 states of the federation.
The first prosecution witness, Mr. Timothy Olaobaju, who is a top management staff of Fidelity Bank had on Monday told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman were among the beneficiaries of the $115,010,000.
The witness told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman jointly received N450m on March 27, 2015.
During today’s proceedings, Sulaiman’s lawyer, Mr. Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), opposed the move by the prosecution to tender the list as an exhibit on the ground that the document did not completely comply with the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act and urged Justice 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 on today,
Under cross-examination by Belgore’s lawyer, Chief Ebun Shofunde (SAN), the witness said the N450m received by Belgore and Sulaiman was brought to Fidelity Bank in a bullion van from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Asked what the denomination the money was, the witness said, “I can’t remember vividly but I remember there were N1,000 and N500 bills.”
He said the money was off loaded from the bullion van into Fidelity Bank loading bay where it was manually counted.
When Shofunde suggested to him that it took two days to count the money, the witness disagreed, saying as a professional banker “I can count N1bn in 20 minutes.”
The witness said though the bank was ready to deliver the money to Belgore and Sulaiman on March 26, 2015 when it arrived from the CBN, but failure of Sulaiman to release his Identification Card delayed the process.
He added that the transaction was captured on the CCTV camera mounted in the bank.
When Shofunde said, “I suggest to you that none of the defendants collected one kobo out of the N450m.” The witness answered, “That is not true.”
When Shofunde suggested to him that it was different individuals that came to the bank on March 27, 2015 to sign and collect portions of the N450m, the witness said, “That was not true.”
In the charges, Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Abuja, and Belgore, a former P D P governorship aspirant in Kwara State, were accused of conspiring between themselves to commit the offence on March 27, 2015.
The duo were accused of making cash transaction of N450m on March 27, 2015, without going through any financial institution.
The EFCC claimed that the defendants paid N50million to one Sheriff Shagaya.
The said cash sum was above the lawful threshold permitted by the law