How Belgore, Sulaimon, allegedly benefitted from Diezani’s $115m

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Alison Madueke

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, and a former Minister for National planning, Prof Abubakar Sulaiman, were on Monday fingered as beneficiaries of a $115,010,000 saved in a new generation bank by a former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Madueke.

An official of the Bank Plc, Mr Timothy Olaobaju, who revealed this before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday, narrated how Diezanj gave instructions to change it into naira and distribute it among individuals in the 36 states of the federation.

Mr Belgore and Sulaimon, allegedly both received N450m. Charged along with the SAN and the ex-minister is Diezani, who is said to still be at large.

The EFCC had earlier arraigned Belgore and Sulaiman on February 8, 2017, but they were re-arraigned on Monday on an amended charge which included the name of Diezani.

Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness said that sometimes in April 2014, “our MD, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, gave a directive that certain companies and individuals would pay into an account with our bank some amounts of money. The purpose of the payment was not disclosed.

“Over the period, thereafter, some amounts were paid into the account. The funds were deposited in dollar. The total sum was $115,010,000.

“On March 27, 2015, there was an instruction from the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through our MD, that the funds in the account should be converted to naira and paid to certain individuals of whom the list of beneficiaries was sent to our MD and the amount to be paid to them in naira.

“The funds were paid according to Alison-Madueke’s instructions.

“On the list sent to our branch, the names of the defendants (Belgore and Sulaiman) were on that list because the money was paid in about 36 states of the federation. The defendants are not customers of our bank. The instruction was that the sum of N450m should be paid to Mr Dele Belgore (SAN) and Prof Abubakar Suleiman. They both received the money and they filled the receipt of payment as evidence of receipt of the money and acknowledgement of same.”

 

Asked whether the N450m was credited into any account, the witness said: “to my knowledge, the N450m was not credited into any account.”

Belgore’s counsel, Chief Ebun Shofunde (SAN), asked for an adjournment, as he said most of what the witness said on Monday were not in the proof of evidence front-loaded and served on the defence counsel.

Sulaiman’s lawyer, Mr Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), aligned himself with Shofunde.

Justice Aikawa, consequently, adjourned the matter till Tuesday for further proceedings.

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.

The duo was accused of making cash transaction of N450m on March 27, 2015, without going through any financial institution. The EFCC said the cash sum was above the lawful threshold permitted by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

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