Alleged N450m Fraud: Court dismisses ex-minister’s no-case submission

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Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday, April 12, dismissed the no-case submission filed by Muhammed Belgore, a former governorship candidate during the 2011 Kwara State gubernatorial election, and Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning.

The judge further directed the defendants to proceed with their defence.

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The defendants had, on February 15, 2018, told the court that they had no case to answer.

They further argued that “all that the prosecution has against us are mere hear-say evidence.”

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They therefore urged the court to discharge them from the criminal trial.

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In his short ruling today, Justice Aikawa stated that he had read the “erudite submissions” of the respective counsel in support and in opposition to the no-case submission and had formed an opinion that both the first‎ and second defendants had a case to answer.

Consequently, the judge dismissed the no-case submission filed by the first and second defendants respectively.

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Counsel to the first defendant, Seni Adio, thereafter, brought an application before the court, urging the court to order the prosecution to front-load all the statements of the first defendant.

Mr Adio claimed that the prosecution hoarded some of his client’s statements, adding that “they were not tendered before the court.”

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However, counsel to the prosecution, Rotimi Oyedepo, countered the allegations. “My lord, we are not a party to hiding any statement. All the statements made voluntarily by the first defendant have been front-loaded before the court,” he said.‎

Mr Oyedepo further argued that the claim by the defence was just an attempt to delay trial.

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He also urged the court to dismiss the application as incompetent, stating further that “I have just been served in court and the application is not ripe for hearing.”

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Justice Aikawa adjourned the matter to April 30, 2018 and ordered the prosecution to make a formal application for the motion to be taken and determined on merit.

Mr Belgore is standing trial alongside Mr Sulaiman for allegedly receiving N450 million on March 27, 2015 out of the $115 million paid by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to compromise the 2015 general election.

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