Alleged N80.2bn Fraud: Court Rejects Bello’s Prayers To Stop Trial

…To Appear On June 13, 2024

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday, May 10, 2024, turned down the request by the former governor of Kogi State, Aljaji Yahaya Bello, seeking to halt trial in the hearing of the N80.2bn fraud charges brought against him by te Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Bello had urged the Court presided over by Justice Emeka Nwite to stay execution in his trial on the grounds that there is an appeal filed by the EFCC pending at the Court of Appeal, against the contempt application filed by him against the Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ola Olukayode.

Ruling on the request on Friday, May 10, Justice Nwite, rejected Bello’s application made through his lawyer Abdulwahab Mohammed.

The trial judge held that the application cannot be entertained without Bello being physically present in court, saying that in the absence of the defendant, the motion on notice filed by the complainant can only be conducted if the defendant is in court.

Justice Nwite further held that Bello was trying to make rubbish out of a criminal case by choosing to stay in his house and not respect the court orders.

Following the ruling of the Court, the embattled former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, through his counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, agreed to submit himself to the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for arraignment on June 13, 2024 in the corruption charges against him.

Bello’s lead counsel, Mohammed while giving an undertaking before Justice Nwite after his request for the suspension of trial was rejected by the court, said that his client (Bello) was not afraid of arraignment but safety of his life in the hand of the EFCC in Abuja.

Mohammed said the life of Bello has been under consistent threats in Abuja, hence, his decision to go underground for safety.

Justice Nwite however said that the EFCC as a law abiding body would not do anything against the provisions of the law, adding that Bello was not the first former governor to be merely invited by the anti-graft agency and would not be the last.

The trial Judge said that the charges against Bello are based on allegations that have not been proven, adding that the law even presume an accused person innocent until proven otherwise thus, advised Bello’s lawyer, Mohammed to prevail on his client to respect the law and order of court as a law abiding person.

Responding, Mohammed thanked Justice Nwite, saying that with the assurance that EFCC would not do anything untoward, Bello would be brought to court.

Mohammed said; “All my client needs is just an assurance for the safety of his life which has been under threat for sometimes in Abuja”.

Mohammed therefore requested for four weeks to bring Bello to court, adding however, that his client would come to the court to take his plea with respect to the charges instead of the EFCC.

Following the undertaking and with no opposition from the Counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, the Court fixed June 13 for Bello to appear in court to take his plea.

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