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Belgore Court fixes July 7 for ruling on application to end alleged N450M bribe case

The EFCC had also accused them of handling the said sum in cash without going through any financial institution.

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Muhammad Dele Belgore play

Muhammad Dele Belgore

(SaharaReporters)

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday fixed July 7 for ruling on an application by a Senior Advocate, Dele Belgore, seeking to quash a criminal charge against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mohammed Aikawa adjourned for ruling after hearing arguments from both the defence and the prosecution counsel.

Belgore is charged along with a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman over allegations of receiving N450 million from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Alison-Madueke is also named in the charge but is described as “being at large”.

The Commission had also accused them of handling the said sum in cash without going through any financial institution.

The offence, according to the anti-graft body,  contravened the provisions of sections 1(a), 15(2)(d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Moving the application on Thursday, the defence counsel, Mr Ebun Shofunde (SAN), insisted that the failure of the EFCC to attach an affidavit to indicate that investigations had been concluded remained  a fundamental breach of the court rules.

He argued that the failure rendered the charge most incompetent and urged the court to quash the charge and set Belgore free.

Opposing the application, the Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that the current law governing criminal cases in Nigeria is the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

Oyedepo maintained that the ACJA never listed the filing of the affidavit in question as a condition which must be accomplished before a criminal charge could be initiated in court.

He argued that the provisions of the ACJA are superior to the Federal High Court Practice Direction.

Oyedepo drew the court’s attention to the provision of Section 221 of the ACJA which restrains any judge in Nigeria from looking at any application which challenges the competence of charges in a criminal matter in the middle of trial.

He also referred to the provision of Section 396 (2) of the Act,which restrains a judge from delivering any ruling on any application of that nature until judgment is handed down on the matter.

Oyedepo urged the court to throw out the application, saying granting same would amount to “slaughtering” justice on the altar of technicality.

Justice Aikawa will rule on the arguments on July 7.

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