A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dele Belgore (SAN), was on Wednesday, June 13, docked before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos. Belgore who was also a former governorship candidate in Kwara state, under the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), was arraigned alongside a former minister of national planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman before Justice R.M Aikawa over allegations of money laundering to the tune of N500 million. The EFCC in its submission to the court, alleged that Belgore and the former minister conspired between themselves to commit the offence on March 27, 2015. The commission also accused the defendants of making two separate cash payments of N450 million and N50 million on March 27, 2015, without going through any financial institution.
The EFCC further put up a claim that the defendants paid the said sum to one Sheriff Shagaya, arguing that the cash sums were above the lawful threshold permitted by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
“The defendants ought to have reasonably known that the N450 million and N50 million formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act,” the EFCC maintained. The commission insisted that the SAN and the former minister violated sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, adding that then duo are liable to be punished under sections 15(3)(4), and 16(2)(b) of the same Act. However, the defendants pleaded not guilty, prompting Justice Akaka to grant both Belgore and Sulaiman to bail on self-recognisance. The trial judge held that he has a belief that as a senior lawyer in Nigeria, Belgore will not for any reason absconds, and Sulaiman, being a former minister in the country, would also not jump bail. But Justice Aikawa issued an order, that both defendants should have their passports submitted to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court. The judge further declared that the passports could only be released to them on the order of the court.
Meanwhile, the senator representing Delta North in the National Assembly, Barrister Peter Nwaoboshi, has said what he is being persecuted for by the EFCC is pure business transaction.
Nwaoboshi who made the claim while addressing selected journalists in Asaba on Monday, June 11, said he would never be muzzled, cowed or intimidated by anybody to keep quiet and betray the leadership of the National Assembly since he did not launder money except that EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu once threatened him. He disclosed that his persecution by the EFCC is because of his position and stand at the National Assembly meant to curtail dictatorship in Nigeria, allow rule of law to prevail, sustain our democracy, allow dissenting voices and encourage investors.