The N450 million money laundering charge filed against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) intensifies as the anti-graft agency, on Wednesday, presented more evidence against him in a Lagos Federal High Court.
Tony Orilade, the spokesperson of the commission, in a statement, said the anti-graft agency told Justice Rilwan Aikwa that Belgore disbursed N126.5 million to some members of the Kwara Senatorial District in cash.
The EFCC also said the money was taken from the alleged N450 million allegedly paid out by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
Belgore, a governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, in the 2011 Kwara State gubernatorial election, is being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly benefiting N450 million from the sum of $115 million largesse Mrs Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections.
He is facing charges alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman
Both men, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
According to the statement, Oyedepo, the prosecution counsel, at the start of the hearing, asked Belgore if he recalled that he (Belgore) had stated, in his evidence, that he ‘saw’ the N450 million at the bank, signed the receipt and instructed the bank to safe-keep it for him.
Oyedepo further asked Belgore if he recalled that he also stated in his evidence that he called a stakeholders’ meeting upon receipt of the money.
In his response, Belgore said: “Yes, I called a stakeholders’ meeting. It was at the meeting we discussed the disbursement of the money and agreed that each Senatorial district should nominate two people each, who would collect money for their district.”
According to the statement, the counsel asked if he (Belgore) gave any written instructions to disburse the money.
Belgore reportedly responded: “I did not have any written instructions for the disbursements.”
Also responding to questions, Oyedepo asked the lawyer if he issued instructions to any bank “where he is not a customer.”
Belgore said: “I have not issued any instructions to a bank, where I am not a customer.”
According to the statement, Oyedepo confronted the former Kwara governorship candidate that he disbursed the sum of over N126.5 million to various beneficiaries out of the N450 million, “as agreed in the stakeholders meeting.”
He further said his personal assistant, Zikrullah Balogun, ”made several disbursements on your instructions and received in cash N80 million.
”Mr Sheriff Shagaya received N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira); Mr Isa Beau received in cash, N61,656,000 (Sixty One Million, Six Hundred and Fifty- six Thousand Naira). Mrs Shola Adeoti received in cash N102,298,000 (One Hundred and Two Million, Two Hundred and Ninety- eight Thousand Naira); Mr Iyola Oyedepo received in cash N9,574, 000 (Nine Million, Five Hundred and Seventy- four Thousand Naira).
”And Senator Sulaiman Ajadi received in cash the sum of N19,689,000 (Nineteen Million, Six Hundred and Eighty- nine Thousand Naira),” the counsel said.
But Belgore told the court that he only carried out instructions passed to him. He said he later directed his personal assistant, Mr Balogun to carry out the order.
“Yes, I was informed that they all received the money and it was paid in cash,” he said.
The judge has adjourned the case to June 17 for a continuation of the cross-examination.