Crime

N450 Diezani cash: EFCC to amend charges against Belgore

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has indicated its intention to amend the charges it filed against Mr. Dele Belgore (SAN), who it accused of laundering N450m.

The anti-grant agency alleged that Belgore collected the N450m from the sum of $115.01m, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to compromise the 2015 general elections.

Belgore, who was arraigned on February 8, 2017, is standing trial alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman.

They are facing five charges before Justice Rilwan Aikawa.

At the Monday proceedings in the case, counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the judge that the anti-graft agency might likely amend the charges.

He argued that the prosecution had the liberty under the law to amend charges anytime before the delivery of judgment.

“We intend to amend the charge in line with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the evidences with us. The law is that we can amend anytime before judgment is delivered,” Oyedepo said.

The defence counsel, Messrs Ebun Shofunde (SAN), and Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), said they were not opposed to the objection, but would need time to study same whenever it was filed.

In the charges, Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Abuja, and Belgore, a former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, were accused of conspiring between themselves to commit the offence on March 27, 2015.

They were accused of making a cash transaction of N450m on March 27, 2015, without going through any financial institution.

The EFCC claimed that the defendants paid N50m to one Sheriff Shagaya.

The EFCC said the cash sum was above the lawful threshold permitted by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

The EFCC claimed that the defendants “ought to have reasonably known that the N450m formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act.”

Belogore and Sulaiman were accused of violating sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

The prosecution said they are liable to be punished under sections 15(3)(4), and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

 But they pleaded not guilty.

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