N450m fraud: Court to view CCTV clip of Belgore’s visit to bank

Justice Rilwan Aikawa has slated March 5 for the viewing of the CCTV clip of the events that took place on March 26, 2015 when a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Dele Belgore, visited a branch of Fidelity Bank in Ilorin, Kwara State.

The application to view the CCTV clip was made on Thursday by Belgore’s lawyer, Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN).

Shofunde applied that the CCTV clip be viewed as part of Belgore’s defence in his ongoing trial for an alleged fraud of N450m.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Belgore, alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, for allegedly laundering N450m in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the N450m was part of a sum of $115.01m, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 general elections.

Belgore, while testifying in his own defence, told the court that though he visited Fidelity Bank alongside Suleiman on March 26, 2015 on the invitation of the bank manager, they only signed for the N450m but did not take it away.

On Thursday, Shofunde tendered in evidence a flash drive containing the CCTV clip of what transpired on the court premises during the visit.

The judge admitted the flash drive in evidence after the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, said he would be reserving his objection to the admissibility of the flash drive to the final written address stage.

While being led in evidence by Shofunde, Belgore reiterated that his only connection with the N450m was in his capacity as the Kwara State Coordinator of then President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election campaign in 2015.

He said, “I have denied taking possession of the N450m. From the very first time that I was questioned about this matter by the EFCC up until this time, my position has not changed.

“Whether by cash, cheque or bank transfer, I never took possession of the N450m.

“I told PW2, who questioned me, that I never took possession of the money. The money was never meant for me and I never used it.”

Belgore, while reading from the statement he made to the EFCC, said after leaving the bank, he called a meeting of all Peoples Democratic Party stakeholders in Ilorin and informed them about the money.

He said the sharing formula was determined at the meeting after which he forwarded a list of beneficiaries to Fidelity Bank for them to be paid by the bank.

At the request of Shofunde, Justice Aikwa adjourned further proceedings till March 5.

In the charges against them, the EFCC insisted that Belgore and Suleiman received N450m from Diezani and laundered same.

The anti-graft agency said they ought to have “reasonably known” that the N450m was part of proceeds of unlawful activities, adding that they handled the money without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

But the SAN and the professor have pleaded not guilty.

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