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Money Laundering: Court Reviews Belgore’S Bail Conditions

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday reviewed the conditions attached to the bail granted a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Dele Belgore, who is being prosecuted for allegedly laundering N450m in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

Belgore was granted bail on self-recognisance upon his arraignment on February 8, 2017 before Justice Rilwan Aikawa.

The judge ordered him to deposit his passport into the court’s custody pending the conclusion of the trial.

At the Tuesday proceedings, Belgore, through his lawyer, Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN), applied to the court for the variation of the bail conditions.

Shofunde told the judge that his client would like to have his passport released to him to enable him to travel to attend to his business,  which he claimed, required that he travelled at a short notice.

The defence counsel said Belgore was willing to produce a surety that would stand for him.

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, said while he had no objection to the release of Belgore’s passport, the court should grant the request only on the condition that Belgore would always bring an application before the court whenever he wanted to travel.

In his ruling, Justice Aikawa ordered that Belgore should provide a surety, who owns a landed property on Lagos Island.

He said the title documents of the property should be verified by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

Justice Aikawa said upon the fulfilment of these conditions, Belgore’s passport could be released to him, stressing that before embarking on any foreign trip, the SAN must apply for and secure the approval of the court.

Similarly, Belgore’s co-defendant, Prof Abubakar Sulaiman, a former Minister of National Planning, also applied for the release of his passport to enable him to embark on a medical trip to Saudi Arabia.

In granting the application, Justice Aikawa ordered that Sulaiman must get a surety, who is resident in Lagos and is a civil servant not below Level 14.

In the alternative, the judge said the surety could be a landed property owner anywhere in Lagos.

He adjourned further proceedings in the case till October 2.

In the charges against them, the EFCC accused Belgore, who was the Kwara State Coordinator of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign organisation, and Sulaiman of laundering N450m days before the presidential election.

The EFCC claimed that the N450m was part of the sum of $115m, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, allegedly doled out to compromise the 2015 presidential election.

It said the SAN and the don “ought to have reasonably known that the N450m formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act.”

But the defendants pleaded not guilty.

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