- Justice Rilwan Aikawa of Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed the no case application filed by Mohammed Dele Belgore and Sulaimon Abubakar
- Justice Aikawa, in his ruling, held that the EFCC had succeeded in making a prima facie case against Belgore and Sulaiman, saying they have a case to answer
- They were accused of handling the huge sum without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act
The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, April 12 dismissed a no-case submission filed by a senior advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, in response to the money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Daily Trust reports that Belgore’s co-defendant, Abubakar Sulaiman, a former minister of national planning, also lost a similar application, urging the court to discharge him and let him go.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, in his ruling, held that the EFCC had succeeded in making a prima facie case against Belgore and Sulaiman, saying they have a case to answer.
The justice said: “I have read all the erudite submission of the respective counsel in support and in opposition to the no case application. I have formed an opinion that the first and second defendant have case to answer. Consequently the no case application is hereby dismissed and defendants should proceed to open their defense.''
The judge ordered them to put in their defence, if they have any, against the allegations levelled against them by the EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had arraigned them on five charges, alleging that they collected N450m cash from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
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, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman acted contrary to sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012. The duo were first arraigned on February 8, 2017.
The EFCC 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 late last year, leaving the floor for them to open their defence.
But in response, Belgore and Sulaiman, through their lawyers, Ebun Shofunde (SAN) and Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima faciecase against them.
It was learnt that the court, however, dismissed the applications calling on them to enter defence.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had reported that a top official of the federal government on Tuesday, April 3, disclosed that Presidency ordered the release of a comprehensive list of those it claims engaged in the massive looting.
The official said Presidency conveyed the directive to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the weekend.
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