Belgore’s N450m Fraud Charge: Court Rules On Motion To Quash Charges Oct. 2

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday fixed Oct. 2 for ruling on the objection to the hearing of a motion seeking to quash the charge against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore.
Belgore is standing trial on an N450 million money laundering charge.
Belgore was arraigned along with a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, before Justice Mohammed Aikawa, on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering.
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, was also named in the charge, but said to be “at large”.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that they defendants conspired to “directly take possession of the N450 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act”.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the last adjournment, the counsel to the first accused, Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN), had brought a motion before the court that a certificate of identification in the proof of evidence was altered.
He urged the court to quash the charge against the accused of what he called irregularity in the evidence.
But the EFCC Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, objected to the hearing of the motion, citing Section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
He argued that even if the court was to hear the motion, the ruling of the motion should be made at the time of delivery of the judgment.
“Section 396 is not seeking to restrict the rights of the accused, it allows the accused to bring any objection and allows the court to determine it at the point of delivering judgment.
“Where the statute provides for a mode of doing a particular act that act must be done in line with that procedure,” Oyedepo said.
Justice Aikawa fixed Oct. 2 for a ruling on the objection and for possible trial.
Earlier, Shofunde had moved a motion, urging the court to order the release of the Belgore’s passport to enable him to attend the graduation ceremony of his daughter in London fixed for July 4.
He said the defendant also wished to use the opportunity to visit his doctor in the UK for a medical checkup in the last week of August.
Mr Olaniran Obele, counsel to the second accused, had also moved a similar motion on the grounds that the second accused had applied to go for hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Oyedepo said he would not oppose the applications for the release of the passports.
Justice Aikawa granted the motions and ordered that both passports be released to the accused persons on the condition that they returned to Nigeria on or before Sept. 14.
He ordered that them to provide one surety each for the purpose of the trips in the sum of N2 million each.
In addition, the sureties must be resident in Lagos with reasonable means of income verified by the court.
In the charge, EFCC said the defendants committed the offences on March 27, 2015.
The offences contravened the provisions of Section 1 (a), 16 (2) (b) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Act, 2012.