Saturday, July 13, 2024

Court adjourns Yahaya Bello’s arraignment until June 27

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

• June 13, 2024
Yahaya Bello declared wanted (Credit: EFCC)
Yahaya Bello declared wanted (Credit: EFCC)

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday adjourned former Governor Yahaya Bello’s arraignment until June 27.

Justice Emeka Nwite fixed the date after counsel for the ex-governor, Adeola Adedipe, informed the court that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s lead counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, earlier informed the defence team that today’s proceeding would not be convenient.

When the matter was called, Mr Adedipe, who was in court for another matter, expressed surprise that an EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, was actually in court after the two parties agreed that junior lawyers would be sent to pick a new date at Mr Pinheiro’s instance.

He said it seemed there was a misalignment between Messrs Pinheiro and Oyedepo.

He said Mr Pinheiro approached the defence lead lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, in his office through a junior lawyer who also appeared in court alongside Mr Oyedepo, saying that today’s hearing would not be convenient for them to proceed.

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 insisted that it was at Pehinro’s behest that the matter be adjourned until June 27 for arraignment.

He said that, but for the EFCC’s decision to seek an adjournment to a future date for his arraignment, the ex-Kogi governor would have been ready to appear in court today.

“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,” Mr Adedipe said.

Responding, Mr Oyedepo disagreed with Mr Adedipe.

He said he was unaware of any meeting between their lead counsel and the defence. However, a senior lawyer, Simon Lough, who came for another matter, stood up to intervene.

He said it was unnecessary for senior counsel to attack each other in court on a simple matter. Mr Lough said since Mr Adedipe had explained why the defendant was not in court, a new date should be agreed upon.

Mr Lough said that at the new date, the court could inquire about what transpired from the prosecution’s lead counsel. He advised the lawyers to stop the argument to save time.

The judge adjourned the case until June 27 on the agreement of counsel after an undertaking that the defendant would appear on the next adjourned day.

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