Muhammad Dele Belgore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) facing criminal trial for his alleged involvement in the 2015 presidential election, says the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) knows he did not use the funds released for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential election campaign in Kwara for personal expenses.
Belgore said this while giving testimony in his own trial before Justice Rilwan Aikawa sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday.
The embattled lawyer said he gave the anti-graft agency all the information about who got what share of the money and the purpose it was meant for “as a matter of helping their investigations”.
He reiterated that the funds were meant to execute the PDP presidential campaign in Kwara.
He said at no time did the EFCC interview any of the people he had mentioned to ascertain the claim that he disbursed any money to them.
He said: “I deny the charges/counts in their entireties. The information that I gave to PW 2 (EFCC prosecutor) in my statement as to those who took possession, disbursed, and used the N450m which is the subject of these charges, was never pursued by PW 2,” Belgore said during cross-examination by his counsel, Ebun Sofunde (SAN).
“(The PW2) had information of who took the money and what it was used for and he did nothing about it. So I totally denied count one to nine. I told EFCC these persons were the ones who disbursed them. EFCC never interviewed any of these persons to confirm whether I ever gave them any money. My exhibit did state the names of those who collected the money from the bank but I never said I disbursed any money.”
Belgore reiterated that his only link to the money was his signing for its arrival at the bank as the Kwara State coordinator for the PDP/Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign.
He denied making any cash payment to anybody, saying the N450m was disbursed by representatives of the party who had been mandated to do so.
He added: “As the coordinator, I merely facilitated the receipt of the money (from the bank) to ensure that the funds are used across the entire 16 LGs of the state. A list was then drawn up in which each LG was named, the amount allocated to each LG based on their size, number of polling units and so on, and against each LG, two persons were nominated to collect money from the bank on behalf of the LGs. I then collected that list and it was sent to PW1 (Bank Manager) the next day Friday morning and payments were made to those persons. I was not there. That was Friday March 27. I wasn't there to make any payment to anybody.”
The last two hearings saw the full footages of the March 26 and March 27 transactions of the bank being played in the open court. Neither of the footages showed Belgore collecting the funds.
Claiming the money was a proceed of an unlawful act, EFCC had alleged that Belgore and Suleiman collected the N450m and disbursed same without going through the bank, an action the agency said violates the money laundering law.
Belgore and Suleiman denied all the charges.
Further hearings in the case have been adjourned to May 6.