Saturday, July 13, 2024

Ex-Governor Yahaya Bello prefers to be tried for money laundering in Kogi

Former Governor Yahaya Bello does not want to be tried for money laundering outside Lokoja, the capital of Kogi.

• June 27, 2024
Yahaya Bello and EFCC chair, Ola Olukoyede
Yahaya Bello and EFCC chair, Ola Olukoyede(SOLACE BASE & DAILY POST NIGERIA)

Former Governor Yahaya Bello has sought the transfer of his trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the Lokoja Division of the Federal High Court.

Mr Bello, who made the application in a letter to the court’s chief judge, Justice John Tsoho, said he preferred to be arraigned in Lokoja, where the alleged money laundering offence was committed.

Counsel to the former governor, Adeola Adedipe, said this on Thursday when the matter came up before Justice Emeka Nwite.

At a resumed hearing, Adedipe informed Mr Nwite that a letter requesting the transfer of the trial had already been delivered to the CJ for his administrative decision.

The senior lawyer said the request for Lokoja was based on the court’s territorial jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Mr Adedipe said the ex-Kogi governor’s legal team was still waiting for the chief judge’s response to the request to transfer the case to Lokoja.

“Although the letter requesting for transfer of this matter to Lokoja was written by Yahaya Bello’s lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed SAN, I am, however, under obligation to draw the attention of this honourable court to the issue,” Mr Adedipe said.

Mr Adedipe said the prosecution had been notified, and their opinion had been sought via a letter dated June 14 from the chief judge’s office.

The letter, addressed to EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, was signed by Joshua Ibrahim AJI, the special assistant to the chief judge.

“You will find attached the copy of a letter by counsel to the defendant on the above subject matter, dated 10th June, 2024. I am directed by His Lordship, the Honourable, the Chief Judge, to forward the letter to you for your response within 6 (six) days of receipt,” the letter stated.

However, the EFCC’s lead counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, vehemently opposed the request for transfer, describing it as an attempt to frustrate the trial.

The EFCC lawyer pleaded with Justice Nwite to hold Messrs Adedipe and Mohammed, the two senior advocates in the defence team, responsible for their inability to produce their client in court despite their undertakings.

The EFCC lawyer also requested that the two lawyers be cited for contempt of court.

Meanwhile, the judge adjourned the matter until July 17 for the arraignment of the former governor and ruling on the request of EFCC to cite the two senior lawyers for contempt.


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