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Court Adjourns Yahaya Bello’s Arraignment Till June 27

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, adjourned the arraignment of the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, till 27th of June, 2024.

Justice Emeka Nwite fixed the date for the arraignment and plea in the money laundering suit instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Bello.

At the resumed hearing, Bello’s counsel, Adeola Adedipe, told the court that both parties already had a meeting outside the court where they agreed on a date.

He said EFCC’s lead counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, had approached one of Bello’s counsel, AbdulWahab Mohammed, that the 13th of June would not be convenient for them to proceed and both parties discussed by way of convenience for another date to be set.

One of EFCC’s lawyers, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), was however in court and said he was not briefed about the said meeting neither was he in the know of an adjournment.

When the matter was called as it was listed in the case list, Adedipe, who was in court for another matter, expressed surprise that Oyedepo was in court for the matter after the two parties had agreed that junior lawyers would be sent to pick a new date, at the instance of Pinheiro.

He said, “And as senior counsel, it was best agreed by way of convenience for another date.

“It was agreed administratively that junior lawyers be sent to court today to formally take a date as agreed by parties for June 27.

“I personally also approached the registry to confirm this information and it was confirmed to me. That was why I told the court that my appearance today is for another matter.

“What the prosecution has done this morning is an ambush to bring the defendant once again to the realms of social media.”

He also claimed that had the EFCC not approached them to seek an adjournment, Bello would have been present in court for his arraignment.

Citing the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, he said, “Under 266 of ACJA, there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe said.

Responding, Oyedepo disagreed with Adedipe.

He said he was not aware of any meeting that was held between Mohammed and Bello’s team.

He said, “With due respect to my learned friend, this court deserves respect. Even though they are not going to respect us because we wear the same cloth, they’re bound to respect the court.

“I am not aware of any meeting for an adjournment of this matter. My concern here is the integrity of the court and the sanctity of this court.

“On the last adjourned date, Abdulwahab SAN was here.

“Myself leading the prosecuting team this matter was adjourned on record. The defence made an undertaking to produce the defendant today. Is it right that we are sitting here and the defendant is sitting at home drinking tea?

“I urge your lordship not to entertain any defence until they present the defendant.”

However, a senior lawyer, Simon Lough, who came for another matter, stood up to intervene.

He said since Adedipe had explained why the defendant was not in court, a new date should be agreed on.

Lough said at the new date, the court could inquire from the prosecution lead counsel on what transpired.

He advised the lawyers to stop the argument in order not to waste the time of the court.

Adedipe apologised for his client’s absence while he appealed to the court to adjourn till the date which he claimed had already been agreed on.

Justice Nwite thereafter adjourned the case till 27th of June on the agreement of counsel after an undertaking that the defendant would appear on the next adjourned day.

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