Alleged money laundering: SAN, ex-minister get new trial date

Ramon Oladimeji

The scheduled trial of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore, for alleged money laundering was stalled on Thursday due to the unavailability of the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos, who is presiding over the case, was told by another lawyer from the EFCC office, Nkereuwem Anana, that Oyedepo was unable to make it to court as his vehicle broke down on the way to the court.

Also, Anana said even the first prosecution witness, who is coming from Ekiti, was still on his way.

He urged Justice Aikawa to stand the case down for a short moment for Oyedepo and the witness to arrive.

However, Belgore’s lawyer, Mr. Ebun Shofunde (SAN), opposed the application for a short stand down, saying he had another matter for the day, adding that the court should not wait for a witness, who was on his way.

Shofunde said the court should rather adjourn the case.

The second defence counsel, Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), aligned himself with Shofunde’s position, noting that his client came all the way from Abuja to attend his trial in Lagos and that the prosecution should show seriousness.

Responding to the parties, Justice Aikawa said he would not stand the matter down to wait for a witness in one case when there were 29 cases on his list for the day.

He charged the prosecution to show more seriousness so that the matter could be disposed of as soon as possible.

He adjourned till March 13 and 14 for definite trial.

Belgore was arraigned on February 8, 2017, alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, on five counts of alleged N500m money laundering.

Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Abuja, and Belgore, a former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, were accused of conspiring between themselves to commit the offence on March 27, 2015.

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Contact: editor@punchng.com

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