Belgore asks court to quash money laundering charges against him
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore on Tuesday prayed a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to quash the N450m money laundering charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The SAN filed, an application before the court challenging the charges against him, describing them as incompetent.
It would be recalled that the anti-graft commission had on February 8, 2017 arraigned Belgore alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman on fraud and money laundering charges.
The EFCC had accused the defendants of collecting and laundering N450m from a sum of $115,010,000 which was allegedly shared by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
The EFCC said Belgore and Sulaiman ought to have reasonably known that the N450m was part of proceeds of an unlawful act, adding that the defendants handled the money without going through a financial institution.
Belgore’s lawyer, Chief Ebun Shofunde, however said his client was challenging the validity of the charges against him.
Shofunde on Tuesday contended that the prosecution had failed to file and serve all the necessary documents to prosecute the case and urged the court to quash the charges.
But counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the application immediately, pointing out that it was a bid to stall the proceedings.
“I urge the court to instantly strike out the application. We were just served with a copy this morning around 9.15am. The application was filed under the practice direction of the court.”
“The same practice direction forbids a party from serving a motion on another party on the day the matter was slated for hearing.”
“If they are challenging the validity of the charge on the grounds that there was no affidavit, then they should abide by what the practice direction said. The application should not stall today’s proceedings,” Oyedepo argued.
But Shofunde in his reply said the focus of the application was jurisdiction with respect to the court’s practice direction, adding that the application had nothing to do with Section 396 (2) of the ACJA.
Ruling on the arguments, Justice Aikawa held that the application was not yet ripe for hearing and that its filing should not stall the continuation of the defendants’ trial.
Justice Aikawa adjourned further proceedings in the case till May 3