A Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday heard that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is not withholding any of the statements written by a senior lawyer, Mohammed Dele Belgore SAN, while investigations into an alleged N450 million fraud lasted.
Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, who represented the anti- graft agency, made the disclosure while responding to a motion filed by Belgore asking the agency to produce all his statements. He alleged that part of the statements which he intends to use for his defence is still with the EFCC.
He disclosed that the accused person has the sole burden of establishing the existence of other statement he allegedly made that was not part of the proceedings.
“The first defendant (Belgore) was served with the charge alongside the proof of evidence on February 1, 2017. These contained all the statements volunteered by the defendants.
“The issue of the statements was also raised in the no-case submission and we joined issues with the defendant in our response. The court has considered the submissions of all parties and dismissed the no-case submission. The motion is coming through the back door to re-litigate what has been decided by the court.
“This motion is an attempt by the defence to delay this matter. It was filed on January 16, 2018 and left in the court’s record. It was exhumed on April 13, 2018, after the no-case submission was dismissed”, he submitted.
He added that all the statements written by Belgore on Dec. 15 and 28 2016; as well as on January 27, 30 and 31, 2017, have been tendered by the commission and admitted by the court as exhibits.
He urged the court to dismiss the motion and direct the defence to open its case.
Belgore’s lawyer, L. O. Akangbe, had earlier urged the court to grant the motion accusing the EFCC of suppression of evidence.
He alleged that part of the statements written by Belgore is still with the EFCC, saying the production of the documents is vital to his client’s defence.
Meanwhile, Justice Mohammed Aikawa has adjourned till May 23 for ruling on the motion.
Belgore and a former Minister of Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, are currently standing trial before the court over alleged N450 million fraud.
The duo 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.
They however pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
In the 9-count amended charge, the EFCC alleged that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke (said to be at large) conspired with Belgore and Sulaiman on or about March 27, 2015, to directly take possession of the sum of N450 million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act.
The trio were also alleged to have taken the said funds in cash, which exceeded the amount authorized by law, without going through the financial institutions.
Belgore, Sulaiman and Madueke were also alleged to have paid the sum of N50 million to one, Sheriff Shagaya, without going through the banks.
They were equally accused of paying the sum of N10 million to one, Dr. Emmanuel Onucheyo, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Kwara State, without going through any financial institution.
The EFCC also alleged that the trio paid N10 million to CP Garba Salihu, in violation of Sections 1(a), 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b) of the same Act.