By Michael Ojo
A senior lawyer, Mr Dele Belgore SAN who is presently on trial for fraud and money laundering on Thursday told a Federal High Court, Lagos that he has no case to answer.
Belgore’s lawyer , Mr Ebun Sofunde SAN made this submissions before Justice Rilwan Aikawa in the on going trial for money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He insisted that all the prosecutor has against him are mere hearsay evidence.
Similarly, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning who is also the second defendant in the suit, filed a no-case submission application in response to the charges preferred against him.
At the resumed proceedings on Thursday the defence counsel, Mr. Shofunde and Mr. Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), urged the court to hold that the defendants has no-case to answer.￼Dele Belgore in Lagos Federal High Court, Ikoyi
They are urging the court to discharge them from the criminal trial.
Mr. Belgore and Mr. Sulaiman were alleged to have collected a cash sum of N450m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke as alleged bribe to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections in favor of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
They were accused of handling the huge sum without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that they acted contrary to sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Oyedepo said in view of the exhibits tendered and overwhelming evidence of pw1 and pw2, coupled with the admission of first defendant in exhibit F and F2 that the defendants have no case to answer, the answer will be in the affirmative.
He urge the court that in view of all the unequivocal facts established against the defendants court should call on them to enter their defence to enable the court to place probative value on the evidence of both the prosecution and defence.
The duo were first arraigned on five counts on February 8, 2017.
The anti-graft agency subsequently amended the charges on two occasions, leading to the re-arraignment of the defendants.
The defendants pleaded not guilty on each occasion.
After calling two witnesses and tendering a number of exhibits, the EFCC closed its case against the defendants, leaving the floor for them to open their defense.
Oyedepo said the agency believed it had already established its allegations against Mr. Belgore and his co-defendant.
The trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, adjourned till April 12, 2018 for ruling
In the five counts charge, which were eventually increased to nine, the EFCC alleged that Belgore and Sulaiman laundered a sum of N450m.
It claimed that they received the N450 from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, on March 27, 2015, to allegedly compromise the 2015 general elections.
The anti-graft agency claimed that Mr. Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Abuja, the former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, ought to have known that the money constituted proceeds of unlawful activities.
The EFCC claimed that the defendants paid N10m cash each to a Commissioner of Police, Garba Saliu, and a Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Emmanuel Onuche.
They were also accused of paying N50m cash to one Sheriff Shagaya; N61,656,000 cash to one Isa Biu and N87,962,000 to the duo of Sola Adeoti and Hajiya Farida Dankaka.
The commission said the cash payments were above the threshold stipulated by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
It said having handled the large cash sums without going through any financial institutions, Belgore and Sulaiman acted sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The prosecution said they are liable to be punished under sections 15(3)(4), and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.