By Victor Ernest
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed March 23 to rule on the acceptability of a list of beneficiaries of funds in the ongoing trial of Diezani Allison-Madueke charged with money laundering.
Diezani who is said to be at large is charged alongside a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dele Belgore.
They were first arraigned in February but were subsequently re-arraigned on March 13, following the amendment of the charges to include the name of Allison-Madueke.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were allowed to continue on their earlier bail terms.
Looted funds beneficiaries
At the last adjourned date, March 13, a first prosecution witness, Timothy Olaobaju, was led in evidence by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.
He had told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman were among the beneficiaries of the sum of $115m deposited in the account of Allison-Madueke.
The witness told the court that Belgore and Sulaiman jointly received N450m on March 27, 2015.
Beneficiaries comprehensive list
When the trial resumed on Tuesday, the prosecution sought to tender in evidence, a document containing a comprehensive list of beneficiaries of Diezani’s funds in the 36 states of the federation.
The move by the prosecution was however opposed by Sulaiman’s counsel, Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), who argued that the document did not comply with the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
He urged the court to reject same.
In response, the prosecution maintained that the document had substantially satisfied the conditions spelt out in Section 84 of the Evidence Act, and urged the court to admit it.
After entertaining arguments from both parties, Justice Aikawa deferred his ruling till March 23.
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