Former Governor Yahaya Bello Requests Trial Transfer to Kogi


The immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, facing a 19-count charge, has written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, requesting that his trial be held in Kogi.

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Bello, through his legal team led by Mr. Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, argued that only the Lokoja Division of the high court has the territorial jurisdiction to address the allegations brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the resumed proceedings on Thursday, Bello did not appear before the Federal High Court in Abuja to enter his plea. Mr. Adeola Adedipe, SAN, who appeared on his behalf, informed trial Justice Emeka Nwite about the letter sent to the Chief Judge.

Adedipe stated, “My lord, after the last court session, a letter was written on behalf of the defendant to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, requesting the administrative transfer of this case to the Federal High Court, Lokoja Judicial Division, which we believe has the territorial jurisdiction to handle this matter. The Chief Judge’s office has notified the prosecution team of this request and asked for their response.”

Adedipe added that they had not yet received any response from the prosecution or any decision from the Chief Judge regarding the transfer request.

In response, EFCC counsel Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, urged the court to demand an explanation from the defense lawyer regarding the defendant’s absence, despite a previous commitment to ensure his presence. Pinhero argued that the letter to the Chief Judge did not absolve the defendant from his obligation to appear in court.

He further argued that ongoing proceedings should not be affected by such requests, and applied for the court to consider holding the senior lawyers representing Bello in contempt.

Bello is facing charges related to money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of public funds amounting to about N80.2 billion. He, along with his nephew Ali Bello and two others, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu, is accused of being complicit in these crimes.

Despite not appearing for previous arraignments, Bello’s legal team filed an application to set aside an arrest warrant issued on April 17 and to challenge the court’s jurisdiction. The court, however, maintained the arrest warrant in a ruling on May 10 but allowed the defendant to voluntarily present himself for arraignment.

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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