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Yahaya Bello’s money laundering case takes unexpected turn



Yahaya Bello’s money laundering case takes unexpected turn

A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the arraignment of former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, on charges of money laundering until July 17, 2024.

Yahaya Bello’s money laundering case, brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was delayed following a request from Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, for the case to be transferred to the Federal High Court in Lokoja.

During Thursday’s hearing, Adedipe highlighted an application to transfer the case, citing Section 45 of the Federal High Court Establishment Act.

He informed the court that the EFCC had been notified of this application through a letter dated June 14, 2024, from the Chief Judge’s office. The letter requested the EFCC’s response within six days.

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Bello was initially scheduled to appear in court on June 13, but the EFCC requested an adjournment to June 27 due to scheduling conflicts. Adedipe reminded the court that his appearance at the last hearing was unintentional, and this was noted in the court records.

He explained that a letter had been sent on behalf of Bello to the Chief Judge, requesting the transfer of the case to the Lokoja judicial division.

The letter was received, and the Chief Judge’s office subsequently wrote to the EFCC’s prosecution team, indicating that the administrative process for the transfer request had begun. Adedipe emphasized that the issue now rests with the bench, not the bar, and expressed respect for the Chief Judge’s initiative.

EFCC counsel Kemi Pinheiro disagreed, arguing that the matter was set for arraignment and that Bello’s counsel had previously committed to producing him in court. Pinheiro contended that the letter to the Chief Judge did not absolve the defendant’s commitment, calling it professional misconduct and contempt of court.

Adedipe countered, reiterating that his appearance on June 13 was accidental and a result of a prior agreement. He suggested that junior lawyers would attend court sessions to set dates, following an earlier correspondence from Pinheiro indicating scheduling conflicts.

Despite this, Pinheiro insisted on moving an application of contempt against Bello’s legal team for failing to produce the defendant as undertaken. Adedipe accused the EFCC counsel of unnecessarily assigning blame and considered withdrawing from the case due to the EFCC’s stance.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the case to July 17 for ruling and arraignment.

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