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Friday, April 13, 2018

N450m Fraud: Court dismisses Muhammed Belgore's 'no-case' submission

Justice Rilwan M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Thursday, April 12, 2018, dismissed the no-case submission filed by Muhammed Belgore, SAN, a former governorship candidate during the 2011 Kwara State gubernatorial election, and Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning.

Belgore is standing trial alongside Sulaiman for allegedly receiving the sum of N450m on March 27, 2015 out of the $115,010,000 paid into Fidelity Bank Plc by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezanni Allison-Madueke, to compromise the 2015 general election.

The judge further directed the defendants to proceed with their defence. The defendants had, on February 15, 2018, told the court that they had no case to answer.

They had further argued that “all that the prosecution has against us are mere hear-say evidence.” The defendants had, therefore, urged the court to discharge them from the criminal trial.

In his short ruling today, Justice Aikawa stated that he had he read the “erudite submissions” of the respective counsels 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. Counsel to the first defendant, Seni M. 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.

Adio claimed that the prosecution hoarded some of his client’s statements, adding that “they were not tendered before the court.” However, counsel to the prosecution, Rotimi Oyedepo, countered the allegations, saying that “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".

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

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