Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos has adjourned to June 28 for ruling on a motion filed by Muhammed Belgore, seeking an order of the court to expunge the charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr Belgore is standing trial alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Abubakar Sulaiman, for allegedly receiving N450 million on March 27, 2015 out of the $115,010,000 paid by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.
They were accused of handling the huge sum without going through any financial institution, contrary to the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
At the resumed hearing on June 25, the counsel to the first defendant, E. O. Sofunde, informed the court that he had filed a motion on behalf of his client, Mr Belgore, seeking the court’s order to expunge the charge.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that he had not filed a counter-affidavit because the defence was trying to stall the proceedings.
“Ever since my Lord ruled on the no-case submission, the defence has been bringing a harvest of motions trying to stall the proceedings.
“It appears the SAN is trying to re-litigate an issue that formed part of the no-case submission, which my Lord has ruled over.
“I have been served with a motion on notice, which substantially is praying my Lord to dismiss the charge.
“It was not brought pursuant to any section of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.
“The motion is claiming that the Certificate of Identification in Exhibit 3 was uttered and they are asking the court to dismiss the charge.
“I submit that your Lordship should put in abeyance the hearing and determination of this motion, which is intended to suspend my Lord’s order calling on the defence to open its case in accordance with the provisions of Section 396 of the ACJA.
“I urge the court to direct the defence to open its case in compliance with the court’s order.”
Mr Sofunde, however, objected to the oral submission by Mr Oyedepo, stating that “the application has been with him for weeks and he is yet to respond.
He also asked the court for a short date to enable him reply to Mr Oyedepo’s submission, adding that ” My client is seeking the release of his passport to enable him to attend his daughter’s graduation on July 4, 2018 in the United Kingdom and also attend to his health sometime in August, 2018.”
After listening to both counsel, Justice Aikawa allowed the submissions of the prosecution counsel and adjourned to June 28, 2018 for the reply of the defence counsel and hearing of the motion of the first defendant.