Muhammed Belgore (SAN), the PDP candidate in the 2015 governorship election in Kwara state, was charged today with five counts of alleged money laundering of N470 million.
He was docked at a Federal High Court, in Lagos, along with Abubakar Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is prosecuting.
The EFCC alleged that Belgore and Abubakar, who was Minister of National Planing in 2014, on or about March 27, 2015, conspired together and directly took possession of N450 million, which they reasonably knew to be proceed of crimes.
The two accused were also alleged to have on March 27, 2015, transferred the sum of N50 million to one Sheriff Shagaya ,without going through financial institutions.
Offences, alleged to have been committed by the two accused are contrary to Sections 18(a), 15(2)(d),1(a), Section 16(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3), 4 and 16(2)(b)of the same Act.
They pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
EFCC Prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that in view of the pleas of the two accused persons, they have put themselves up for trial, pursuant to Section 273 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
Mr Oyedepo therefore urged the court to fix a date for trial.
However Belgore’s lawyers by Ebun Shofunde (SAN) leading other two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Seni Adio, Ladi Rotimi-Williams,and six other lawyers told the court that they have filed a summon for bail, which has been served on the prosecution.
Mr Shofunde (SAN) urged the court to admit Dele Belgore to bail on self-recognisance, on the ground that he is a Senior lawyer, who has been a lawyer since 1985, and became a SAN in 2001.
He said Belgore will not be a flight risk and urged the court to grant him bail.
In the same vein, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), lawyer to Professor Abubakar, leading Mr. Olatunde Busari, SAN, urged the court to grant Abubakar bail on self-recognisance.
Ayorinde said they he had filed a summon for bail dated February 8, 2017, before the court and that the prosecution had been served a copy .
Mr Ayorinde (SAN) told the court that Professor Abubakar is an educationist and a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2014, a Researcher and Teacher of over 20 years, who currently lectures at University of Abuja.
He therefore urged the court to grant him bail on self-recognisance.
In response, the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, said he leave the issue of bail to the court’s discretion,but urged the court to grant them bail in terms that will make them to attend trials.
The judge however ordered that the defendants’ international traveling passport which is in the custody of the anti-graft agency be transferred to the court and be deposited with the Court’s Deputy Chief Registrar.
He adjourned till 23rd of February 2017.