Court Insists on Yahaya Bello’s Presence for Alleged N80.2 Billion Fraud Arraignment

'This is Witch-hunting' - Kogi Govt Fires Back at EFCC Over N84bn Fraud Case Against Yahaya Bello, Others

In a recent development, Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, has reiterated the necessity for the physical appearance of former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello, for arraignment before the court addresses any of his pending applications.

The judge emphasized that Bello, facing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for an alleged N80.2 billion fraud, is in contempt of court for resisting lawful arraignment. Therefore, his applications cannot be entertained until he complies with the court’s directives.

The ruling came after Bello’s lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, filed applications on April 23, 2024, seeking the revocation of the arrest warrant issued against his client and questioning the court’s jurisdiction to hear the trial. Additionally, Mohammed sought to enforce Bello’s fundamental human rights as ruled by the Kogi State High Court, Lokoja.

Prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinhero, SAN, argued against entertaining the applications without first arraigning the defendant, stating that it would contradict the standard procedure in criminal justice administration.

In his ruling, Justice Nwite emphasized that any party disrespecting the court forfeits the right to have their prayers heard. He emphasized Bello’s obligation to appear before the court and criticized his absence as a sign of contempt.

Following the ruling, the defence counsel requested a stay of proceedings in the trial, citing a similar action taken by the Kogi State High Court, Lokoja, pending the outcome of EFCC’s appeal against a contempt proceeding initiated by Bello against EFCC’s Executive Chairman, Mr Ola Olukoyede.

Lead prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, objected to the request for a stay of proceedings, highlighting its inconsistency with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

Justice Nwite admonished the defence lawyer, accusing him of misleading his client and reiterated the necessity for Bello’s presence in court before any applications could be entertained.

The case has been adjourned until June 13, 2024, for Bello’s arraignment.

The EFCC is prosecuting Yahaya Bello alongside his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19-count charges related to money laundering amounting to N80,246,470,089.88.

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Yakubu Binuyaminu
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