N470m Fraud: EFCC Arraigns SAN, Former Minister Over Money Laundering Allegations

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission yesterday arraigned a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore and a former Minister for National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman before the Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly laundering the sum of N470 million.
Belgore, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain who contested the governorship election in Kwara State in 2015 and the former Minister, who served during President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration were arraigned on a five count charge before Justice R.M. Aikawa.
The EFCC alleged that the duo in 2014, on or about March 27, 2015, conspired among themselves and directly take possession of N450 million, which they reasonably knew to be proceed of crimes.
The two defendants were also alleged to have on March 27, 2015, transferred the sum of N50 million to one Sheriff Shagaya, without going through financial institutions.
The alleged offences, according to the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, are contrary to Sections 18(a), 15(2)(d),1(a), Section 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3), 4 and 16(2)(b)of the same Act.
The two defendants however pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
After their plea were taken, the EFCC lawyer, Oyedepo urged the court for a trial date in pursuant to Section 273 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
However Belgore’s counsel, Enun Shofunde (SAN) informed the court that they have filed a summon for bail, and such have been served on the prosecution.
Shofunde urged the court to admit his client to bail on self-recognisance, on the ground that he is a senior lawyer, who been a lawyer since 1985, and became a SAN in 2001.
The lawyer also stressed that his client is not be a flight risk.
The counsel to Professor Abubakar, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), also urged the court to grant his client bail on self-recognisance.
Ayorinde argued that his client is an educationist and was a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a Researcher and Teacher of over 20 years, who currently lecturing at University of Abuja.
Oyedepo did not oppose the bail applications but rather urged the judge to use his discretion by issuing terms that will make them to attend trials.
In a short ruling, Justice Aikawa admitted the two men to bail on self-recognisance.
The judge said he believed that as a senior lawyer in the country, Belgore would not abscond, and Sulaiman, being a former minister in the country, would also not jump bail.
Justice Aikawa, however, ordered both defendants to submit their passports to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court, stressing that the passports could only be released to them on the order of the court.
He then adjourned the matter till February 23 for commencement of trial.
Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Muhammed Dele Belgore and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, on or about the 27th day of March, 2015, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of the N450, 000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act.
Count two reads: “That you, Muhammed Dele Belgore, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman on or about the 27th day of March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly took possession of the sum of N450,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira ) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act.
And count three reads: “that you, Muhammed Dele Belgore, and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, on or about the 27th day of March,2015 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: making cash payment of the sum of N450,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) which sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law without going through financial institution and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b),16(2)(b) of the same Act.

Source: Leadership

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