Alison-Madueke Loot: Belgore Denies Laundering N450m

Alison-Madueke Loot: Belgore Denies Laundering N450m

 A former People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship aspirant in Kwara State, Dele Belgore (SAN) on Monday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that he did not laundered the sum of N450m in 2015 as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying the cash was too huge to ferried in the Sports Utility Van he came with.

Belgore and a former Minister of Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, the defendants were on November 28, 2017, re-arraigned before the court by the anti-graft agency on an amended 9-count charge bordering on the alleged offence.

The EFCC alleged that the two politicians benefiting N450m from the sum of $115.01m, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 general elections.

They however pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.

While testifying in his own defence on Monday before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, Belgore said that he was invited by the bank manager on March 26, 2015 to take delivery of the N450m cash, but he said he ended up leaving the bank without the money.

The senior lawyer, who said he was the Kwara State Coordinator of then President Goodluck Jonathan re-election campaign, stated he did not collect the N450m because on getting to the bank he realised that the money was too huge for his Toyota Prado jeep.

He claimed, “I indicated to PW1 (bank manager) that I could not collect the money and I gave two reasons. First, I said this money was coming two days before the election; all the stakeholders and party members were aware of the arrival of the money and therefore, I did not consider it safe to move such a huge amount of money out of the bank in the middle of the night.

“The second reason was that I did not come prepared to receive and take away such a large amount of money, as I came only in my vehicle, a Toyota Prado jeep.

“As I said earlier, the heap of cash that I saw in the bank’s loading bay was at least three to four feet high. So, I told PW1 that if it took a bullion van to transport the cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria to Fidelity Bank, there was no way I would be able to evacuate those funds with my Toyota Prado,” he stated.

Belgore further testified that following a long argument between him, Suleiman and the bank manager, the bank manager told them to sign for the money and agreed to keep the money in the bank’s vault.

He said, “After signing the document, I left the bank without the money. I did not take a penny out of the bank; I left the bank empty-handed,” he said.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa adjourned further proceedings till February 28, 2019, at the instance of Belgore’s lawyer, Ebun Shofunde (SAN), who said he needed time to preview the CCTV footage of the events that took place within the banking hall on March 26, 2015 when Belgore and Suleiman visited.

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