Money Laundering: Witness Reveals How Diezani Paid N450m into Ex-Minister’s Accounts

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The trial of Muhammed Dele Belgore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning, commenced on Monday, March 13, 2017 before Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos. with a prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, a staff of Fidelity Bank Plc., revealing how the immediate former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly paid the sum of N450, 000,000 into the defendants’ accounts.

 

A prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, a staff of Fidelity Bank Plc, revealed how the immediate former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly paid the sum of N450, 000,000 into the defendants’ accounts.
The accused persons were arraigned on February 8, 2017 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a five-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of $115,010(N450m.)

At the hearing today the Judge read out the counts below to the defendants;

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That you, Muhammed Dele Belgore (SAN) and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman on or about the 27th day of March, 2015, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to directly take possession of the N450, 000, 000. 00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira). A sum which you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the same Act.

Another  read:

That you, Muhammed Dele Belgore (SAN) and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman on or about the 27th day of March 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly took possession of the sum of N450,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) a sum  which you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) & 4 of the Same Act.

At the resumed hearing today, Olaobaju, who is the first prosecution witness, PW1, told the court that he met the defendants in the course of his duty as a supervisor for operational activities in his region.

 
Olaobaju, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, stated that the Bank’s Managing Director, Nnamdi Okonkwo, told him sometime in April 2014 that some individuals and three companies- Northern Belt Oil and Gas Company, Auctus Integrated Investment Limited and Mid-Western Oil and Gas Company Limited- would pay some money in dollars into the bank.

 
He revealed that Okonkwo, however, did not disclose the purpose of the payment.
Giving further testimony, he said:

In March 27, 2015, there was a directive from the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison- Madueke, through the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, that the received funds should be converted to Naira and paid to some certain individuals.Both Mohammed Dele Belgore, SAN, and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman were among the beneficiaries of the money. The sum of N450, 000, 000. 00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) was paid to them as instructed.

 

The receipt of payment was tendered and admitted in evidence as an exhibit by the court.Justice Aikawa adjourned the matter to March 14, 2017, for a continuation of trial.

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