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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Alleged N80.2b Money Laundering: Court Shifts Yahaya Bello’s Arraignment to June 27



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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, June 13, 2024 adjourned the arraignment proceedings of a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Adoza Bello to June 27, 2024.

The adjournment followed discrepancies between the EFCC and defence counsels on the actual date of Bello’s appearance in court for his arraignment. While defence counsel, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, told the court that EFCC lead counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, requested for a new date owing to the fact that the June 13 date was not convenient for him, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, one of the prosecution counsels denied any request for a new date of arraignment.

Addressing the court on the issue, Oyedepo said the matter was adjourned till June 13, 2024 at the last sitting of the court. “With due respect to my learned friend, I think this court deserves respect.. . Attempting to rob the officers of the court, as well as a desperate attempt in describing the prosecution team as one whose house is scattered, is quite unfortunate coming from my learned colleague. At the last adjourned date, Mr. AbdulWahab, SAN, was here, myself leading the prosecution team and he, Adedipe. We were all here, and the record of my Lord will show that the matter was adjourned in an open court and on record.

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Continuing, Oyedepo stated that, “My Lord, the defence made an undertaking to produce the defendant today, so my Lord, assuming that there was any conversation between the defence and the prosecution to adjourn the matter, the main issue of today is the appearance of the defendant, but they refused to bring him to court. Instead of admitting to this, he is bringing the prosecution into it. I’m appealing that the court should not entertain any application from them till they bring the defendant or show where he is and stop blaming us and the officers of the court, and also apologize to us and the court for not bringing their client to court,”

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Meanwhile, Adedipe apologized, saying; “If there’s any misrepresentation, I apologize and take full responsibility. I apologize to the court that the defendant is not here, and I equally apologized to the prosecution, but it was based on the agreement of the lead counsels. So I’m applying the matter to June 27, 2024.

Oyedepo thereafter accepted the apology while urging the court to capture it on record that the defence apologized and to make them produce the defendant to take his plea on the next adjourned date.

After listening to both counsels, Justice Nwite adjourned the matter till June 27, 2024 for Bello to appear before the court to take his plea.

The EFCC is prosecuting Yahaya Bello alongside his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N80, 246, 470,089.88k (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eighty-nine Naira, Eighty-eighty Kobo).

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