How Belgore, Others Shared Diezani’s N450M Election Bribe Mone——EFCC Witness
The Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) Usman Zakari, today narrated before a Federal High Court, Lagos, how some individuals and public officials benefited from an alleged bribe of $115 million doled out by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, to compromise the 2015 general election.
Zakari, an investigator with the EFCC tendered a document before the Court, where it was stated that the Resident Assistant Inspector-General of Police in Kwara State at the time received N1million cash.
The document tendered by the investigator also indicated how the Commissioner of Police in Kwara State at the time received N10 million cash, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations got N2 million cash.
Also, the document stated that both the Assistant Commissioners of Police in charge of Operations and Administration in Kwara State, according to the document, received N1million cash each, the Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC) in Kwara State for the 2015 General elections was also given a cash of N10 million, while the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Administrative Secretary in Kwara State at the time received N5million cash.
Furthermore, the document stated that the INEC Head of Department Operations (HOD OPs) and “his boys” were given N5million, while “other officers” received and shared N2 million among themselves.
Also listed as beneficiaries of the Diezani’s bribe in Kwara State in the document were OC Mopol and “his men”, who got N7million; 21C Mopol and men in the state, who got N10 million; the Director of the State Security Service and his men, who got N2.5million.
The witness also stated that the military in Kwara State was bribed with N50million, while other security agencies including the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Corps got N20million.
An investigator with the EFCC, Usman Zakari, who brought the document to court on today stated that it was recovered from the first defendant, Dele Belgore (SAN).
Belgore is standing trial before Justice Aikawa for allegedly collecting N450 million from Diezani and distributing same to beneficiaries in Kwara State.
The EFCC accused him of handling the money in cash without going through any financial institution, an act said to be an offence under sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The EFCC said Belgore is liable to be punished under sections 15(3)(4), and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
Standing trial along with Belgore for the offence is a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.
The two defendants were arraigned on charges of money laundering on February 8, 2017 but they pleaded not guilty.
Zakari is the second witness to be called by the EFCC in its efforts to prove its case.
Testifying before Justice Aikawa on Thursday, Zakari explained that Belgore volunteered the list to the EFCC when he was invited and interrogated by the anti-graft agency.
The investigator pointed out to the court, Belgore’s endorsement on the document titled, “Security and Transportation per State”, stating that “document supplied by me, Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN).”
Equally, the EFCC exhibited another document recovered from Belgore also showing other beneficiaries.
The document simply titled “Kwara State” showed beneficiaries of a sum of N155,220,000 and the breakdown of what they got.
Among them were 15 electoral officers, who each received, 250,000; 15 supervisors, who got N100,000 each; state Returning Officer, who got N1million, among others.
The two documents were tendered by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, and admitted in evidence as Exhibit 7 and 7A, against Belgore and Suleiman, as their lawyers, Mr. Ebun Shofunde (SAN) and Mr. Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), raised no objection.
In his evidence, Zakari told the court that the EFCC’s findings showed that the money was disbursed in cash to the beneficiaries.
“My Lord, the mode of payment, as contained in Exhibit 7, is cash payment. The payments were not done through any financial institution,” Zakari said.
Meanwhile, Justice Aikawa entertained Belgore’s application seeking the dismissal of the charges on the grounds that the EFCC failed to attach an affidavit showing that it had concluded investigation in the case before bringing the case to court.
Moving the application today, Belgore’s lawyer, Shofunde (SAN) argued that the failure of the EFCC to attach an affidavit saying it had concluded investigation before filing the charges was a fundamental breach of the Federal High Court Practice Direction and which had rendered the charges incompetent.
He urged Justice Aikawa to quash the charge, and acquit and discharge his client.
But in opposition, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo, argued that the current law governing criminal cases in the country, was the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
He argued that the ACJA did not list filling of the said affidavit as one of the conditions that must be fulfilled before a criminal charge could be filed in court, stressing that the provisions of the ACJA were superior to that of the Federal High Court Practice Direction.
Besides, he referred Justice Aikawa to Section 221 of the ACJA which barred a judge from entertaining any application challenges the competence of charges in a criminal case in the middle of trial and Section 396 (2) of the Act, which barred a judge from ruling on any such application until the final judgment in the case.
Oyedepo therefore urged the judge to dismiss the application, saying granting it would “amount to slaughtering justice on the altar technicality.”
However, Justice Ridwan Aikawa adjourned till July 7 for ruling.