The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has tendered in evidence, a comprehensive list detailing all the beneficiaries of the $115 million dollars allegedly looted by former Minister of Petroleum resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
However, Justice R. M Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos, fixed March 23 to rule on the admissibility of the list as evidence in the ongoing money laundering trial of senior lawyer, Dele Belgore, former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman and the former Petroleum Resources Minister, who is said to be at large.
The accused persons were first arraigned in February but were subsequently re-arraigned on Monday, following the amendment of the charges to include the name of Allison-Madueke.
At the last adjourned date, a prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman were among the beneficiaries of the sum of $115m deposited in the account of Allison-Madueke.
Olaobaju, who was led in evidence by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, said that Belgore and Sulaiman jointly received N450m on March 27, 2015.
At the resumption of trial on Tuesday, the prosecution sought to tender in evidence, a document containing a comprehensive list of beneficiaries of Diezani’s funds in the 36 states of the federation.
But the move was opposed by Sulaiman’s counsel, Olatunji Ayanlaja, SAN, who argued that the document did not comply with the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act and asked the court to reject it.
In response, Oyedepo maintained that the document did not run afoul of Section 84 of the Evidence Act, and urged the court to admit it.
Justice Aikawa subsequently fixed March 23 to rule on the admissibility of the document.
Meanwhile, the hearing continued as the defence counsel began cross-examining the witness.
Under cross-examination by Belgore’s lawyer, Ebun Shofunde, SAN, the witness said that the N450m received by Belgore and Sulaiman was brought in a bullion van from the CBN.
Asked the denomination of the currencies, Olaobaju said he could not remember vividly “but I remember there were N1, 000 and N500 bills.”
He said that the money was offloaded from the bullion van into the bank’s loading bay where it was manually counted.
When Shofunde suggested to him that it took two days to count that huge amount of money, the witness said that as a professional banker “I can count N1bn in 20 minutes.”
He added that the transaction was captured on the CCTV camera mounted in the bank.
Shofunde said, “I suggest to you that none of the defendants collected one kobo out of the N450m,” to which the witness replied: “that is not true”.
The defence counsel also suggested to him that it was different individuals that came to the bank on March 27, 2015, to sign and collect portions of the N450m, but Olaobaju retorted “That is not true”.