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BREAKING: Yahaya Bello overpowered EFCC, fails to appear in court again

Former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has again failed to show up for his arraignment on Thursday



Yahaya Bello overpowered EFCC, fails to appear in court again


Former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has again failed to show up for his arraignment on Thursday. Following his absence in court, the trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, adjourned the case to June 27, 2024, for his arraignment.


Story highlights



     • Again, the planned arraignment of Yahaya Adoza Bello, a former Kogi State Governor before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has stalled amid an N 80.2 billion fraud charge instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

      • The ex-governor was scheduled to be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite in a 19-count charge, as revealed on the court’s cause list for today.

     • But the defendant did not show up resulting in an argument between lawyers to the parties.


EFCC charges

Yahaya Adoza Bello, Ali Bello, Dauda Suliman, and Abdulsalam Hudu (still at large) are accused of conspiring in February 2016 to convert N80,246,470,088.88, which was allegedly obtained through a criminal breach of trust, violating Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.


Between July 26, 2021, and April 6, 2022, Yahaya Bello is alleged to have aided E-Traders International Limited in concealing N3,081,804,654.00 in an Access Bank account, knowing it was from unlawful activity, thereby violating Sections 18(a) and 15(2)(d) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.


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Additionally, in November 2021, Bello allegedly procured E-Traders International Limited to transfer $570,330.00 to a TD Bank account in the USA, also from unlawful activity, violating Section 15(2)(d) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.


What transpired in court

Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), told the judge that on May 10, 2024, upon the undertaken of the learned counsel for the defendant, the court adjourned to today for the defendant to be produced for arraignment.


But Adeola Adedipe (SAN), who for stood in for Yahaya Bello, said it appears that there is a misalignment with the transmission of information coming from prosecution, adding that the lead prosecution counsel, Kemi Piniero (SAN) had suggested to the defense in a meeting that the arraignment be further adjourned to June 27 for convenience sake.


He added that the agreed date was also referred to the court administratively and that junior counsels would come to court today and formally take a date as agreed by parties, since the matter was last adjourned in open court.


He said he personally approached the registrar to confirm and it was confirmed to him, adding the prosecution was trying to “ambush” him.


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Rotimi Oyedepo responded that the defense team was attempting to describe the prosecution team as one that is divided, adding that the EFCC suspended its “machinery” following their undertaken to produce him.


He insisted that holding a meeting outside court is not a sufficient ground for the defense team to sit down in court while the ex-governor is absent from proceedings.


“Assuming without conceding that there was a conversation between the counsel for Bello and the prosecution (outside the court), to have this matter adjourned, the fundamental issue today is compliance with the order of my lord; to with, the appearance of the defendant,” he said, urging the defense to apologize to the court.


The judge asked Adedipe if they agreed in the meeting that Bello should not be in court today, he replied that what was agreed is that junior lawyers should come and take a new date.


Adedipe subsequently apologized to the court and to the prosecution and urged the court to further adjourn the arraignment to June 27 as agreed by the parties.


Oyedepo also apologized for reacting at the defense team’s refusal to produce Bello today.



What the judge said

After hearing the parties, the judge said ordinarily, today was fixed for Bello’s arraignment but he has noted the meeting between the lawyers as well as the apology of the defense team.


” I am minded to take the apology on the ground that the defendant is making a fresh undertaking that the defendant(Bello) will be produced on June 27.


“The matter is adjourned to June 27 for arraignment,” the judge ruled.


What you should know

The EFCC and other security agencies had declared Bello wanted citing in court, their inability to track his whereabouts or arrest him.


The planned arraignment of the Kogi State ex-governor comes amid the ongoing trial of his nephew, Alli Bello, Daudu Suleiman, and another for fraud.


They were accused of diverting public funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.


In that case, Yahaya Bello was mentioned as an accomplice in some of the counts.


Nairametrics reports that a state high court in Kogi had earlier restrained the EFCC from arresting or prosecuting Yahaya Bello (in a civil suit) but the anti-graft agency also obtained a bench warrant from the Federal High Court Abuja against the former governor regarding its criminal charges.


However, the Appeal Court stayed the execution of all the proceedings in the suits filed at the Kogi State High Court by Bello.


Bello’s legal team is still on that appeal but the trial court has held that the criminal case before him must continue in line with the rules of the court.


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