Yahaya Bello Requests To Be Tried in Kogi Court

The immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, who was absent for his scheduled arraignment and plea bargain, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Thursday, wrote the court a letter that he would prefer to be tried in his state.

Bello, in the letter he wrote through his team of lawyers led by Abdulwahab Mohammed, claimed that only the Kogi High Court in Lokoja has the territorial jurisdiction to preside over the allegations that were brought against him.

Adeola Adedipe, one of the lawyers in Bello’s team, told the court about the letter.

Addressing the court, Adedipe said after the close of the last sitting, he reported back to his team what transpired in court and he was informed that a letter had been written on behalf of the defendant to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

“Requesting in substance, that this matter be administratively transferred to the Federal High Court, Lokoja Judicial Division, which we believe has territorial jurisdiction to handle this matter.

“That letter was received at the Chief Judge’s Chambers and the office of the honourable CJ. We wrote the prosecution team through Mr Iseoluwa Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, on June 13, notifying him that administrative steps had been activated, whereof he was directed to provide a response to the request for transfer of the matter,” Adedipe said.

He, however, noted that he wasn’t aware that there had been a response by the prosecution team in compliance with the directive of the CJ.

“We are also not in receipt of any decision that has been made on this request by the CJ,” he said.

He further added that they have filed an affidavit to this effect and attached two documents referencing the same.

He told the court that he isn’t urging anything from the court at the moment although his duty is to the court.

He added that he just wanted to present the facts as they were.

The prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinhero, asked the court to compel the defence lawyer to say why the defendant was not in court, despite an undertaking he made on 13th of June, to ensure his presence in court for his scheduled arraignment which has been adjourned multiple times.

Pinehero contended that the letter to the CJ did not discharge the undertaking made by Bello’s counsel at the previous sitting.

He said a situation where a petition is forwarded against a judge to the National Judicial Council, does not stop proceedings on cases pending before the judge.

He said the court should invite Bello’s counsels to show cause why they should not be dealt with for contemptuous conduct.

He urged the trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, to dismiss the tales of the defence lawyer as “dilatory and a further attempt to treat this court with scorn.”

Bello is facing charges bordering on money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of about N80.2bn brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).


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