Timothy Olaobaju, a staffer of Fidelity Bank Plc, has told a federal high court Diezani Allison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum, gave N450 million to former governorship aspirant in Kwara state, Dele Belgore, and ex-Minister of National Planning, Prof,. Abubakar Sulaiman. Belgore and Sulaiman, who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for money laundering allegedly acknowledged receipt of the money.
Olaoboju also told the court the N450m was part of a sum of $115,010,000 Allison-Madueke stashed in the bank. ‘The distribution of the slush fund was spread across the 36 states and paid out to recipients on Allison-Madueke’s instruction’, said the witness.
“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 witness stated.
However, Sulaiman and Belgore pleaded not guilty. Belgore’s counsel, Ebun Shofunde, senior advocate, asked for an adjournment while stating that most of what the witness said on Monday were not in the proof of evidence front-loaded and served on the defence counsel. Sulaiman’s lawyer, Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), aligned himself with Shofunde, to which the EFCC counsel acquiesced to the adjournment.
Ruling, Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos adjourned the case till Tuesday.