Judge Insists on Yahaya Bello’s Court Appearance Over Billion Fraud Case Arraignment

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja mandated the physical presence of former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello, for his arraignment concerning an alleged N80.2 billion fraud.

The court dismissed the preliminary applications submitted by Bello’s defense until he complies with the court’s order to appear.

Bello, accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of substantial financial misconduct, has previously resisted lawful arraignment, an act the court deemed contemptuous. The judge asserted that Bello’s refusal to appear demonstrates a disregard for the judicial process, thus invalidating his entitlement to have his applications heard until he presents himself in court.

During the proceedings, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, representing Bello, requested the court to revoke an earlier arrest warrant and questioned the court’s jurisdiction over the trial. However, the prosecution, led by Kemi Pinhero, SAN, argued that addressing these applications without Bello’s arraignment would subvert the norms of criminal justice.

Responding to the defense’s request to stay proceedings pending an appeal concerning a related contempt case against the EFCC’s Chairman, lead prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, highlighted that such a request contradicts the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. Oyedepo emphasized the court’s duty to maintain its authority and order, especially against individuals who flaunt their societal status to disregard court protocols.

Justice Nwite criticized the defense for potentially misleading Bello and reminded them of the importance of respecting the judicial process. He reassured the defense of the EFCC’s adherence to the law and dismissed fears regarding the safety of their client, urging them to bring him to court.

The arraignment of Yahaya Bello, scheduled for June 13, 2024, will also involve his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, and Abdulsalam Hudu, who face multiple charges related to the alleged laundering of over N80 billion.


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