By Ganiyat Ganiyu
Lagos, (An24) – Mr. Timothy Olaobaju, a staff of Fidelity Bank Plc, who is also a witness in the ongoing trial of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, has revealed how the erstwhile minister distributed the sum of $115,010,000 among some persons across the country.
Olaobaju said Mr. Dele Balgore, SAN, and a former Minister of National Planning, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, both received N450m from Diezani.
The receipt form filled by the defendants were then tendered by the EFCC and admitted by the courts as exhibits in the case.
Recall that the EFCC had earlier arraigned Belgore and Sulaiman on February 8, 2017, but they were re-arraigned on Monday on an amended charge which included the name of Diezani.
The duo were arranged on a five count charge of money laundering.
EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo on Monday told the court to allow the amended charge be read for a fresh plea to be taken.
The witness said;
“Sometime in April 2014, our MD, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, gave a directive that certain companies and individuals would pay into an account with our bank some amounts of money. The purpose of the payment was not disclosed.
“Over the period, thereafter, some amounts were paid into the account. The funds were deposited in dollar. The total sum was $115,010,000.
“On the 27th of March, 2015, there was an instruction from the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through our MD, that the fund in the account should be converted to naira and paid to certain individuals of which the list of beneficiaries was sent to our MD and the amount to be paid to them in naira.
“The funds were paid according to Alison-Madueke’s instructions.
“On the list sent to our branch, the names of the defendants (Belgore and Sulaiman) were on that list because the money was paid in about 36 states of the federation.
“The defendants are not customers of our bank.
“The instruction was that the sum of N450m should be paid to Mr Dele Belgore (SAN) and Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.
“They both received the money and they filled the Receipt of Payment as evidence of receipt of the money and acknowledgement of same.”
Belgore and Sulaiman were also alleged to have paid the 50 million Naira to Sheriff Shagaya, without going through the banks.
The court adjourned the matter till Tuesday, March 14, 2017 for cross-examination of the witness, and continuation of trial.