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Court Gives Update On EFCC’s Suit Against Embattled Yahaya Bello

Posted by Thandiubani on Tue 23rd Apr, 2024 -

Bello is facing a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

A Federal High Court in Abuja has given a date to rule on a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.
The court on Tuesday adjourned till May 10 for ruling.
Bello is facing a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.
At the last hearing, Justice Emeka Nwite had adjourned for arraignment and ruling after Bello failed to show up in court for his arraignment.
Just like last week, Bello was again absent for his arraignment in court on Tuesday.
On this ground, Justice Nwite ordered the EFCC to serve a copy of the proof of evidence and charge against Bello on his counsel while he Cited Section 382(4) and (5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
Justice Nwite ordered that the counsel who had announced unconditional appearance for Bello be the one to receive the service of the charge.
“I make an order for the charge and the proof of evidence to be served on counsel who had unconditionally announced appearance for the defendant”.
Abdulwahab Mohammed who last week had declared unconditional appearance for Bello however initially declined to accept the charge as he had instructed a junior lawyer in his team to receive it. Justice Nwite however insisted that he accepts it.
The court held that the law allows for substituted means of service in a situation where it becomes practically impossible to effect personal service of a legal process on a defendant.
Justice Nwite held that this could be done by handing the same to either his counsel or any adult in his household.
Justice Nwite said the court cannot assume jurisdiction in the absence of effective service of the Originating Summon.
He held that service of any process of court on a defendant is fundamental to ensure jurisdiction.
“Any decision reached in the absence of service will be subject to an appellate attack no matter how brilliant the decision reached”, Nwite had said.
A member of Bello’s legal team, Mr Adeola Adedipe (SAN) had appealed to the court to set aside the warrant of arrest hanging over his client.
Adedipe said his client would have loved to show up in court but he is afraid of the order of arrest.
Adedipe urged the court to set aside the exparte order of arrest it issued against his client.
Justice Emeka Nwite had last week Wednesday issued a warrant of arrest on Yahaya Bello.
EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) had however said the arrest warrant could be set aside if Bello were to show up in court as required.
Pinehero assured saying “As his prosecution, I will personally apply that the arrest warrant be set aside if he comes to court next adjourned date.
“If he gives an undertaking that his client will be in court on the next date, I can assure him that the arrest warrant will not be executed”, Pinehero had said.
Adedipe, however, stated that as at the time the order of arrest was issued on his client, the charge had not been served on him as required by the law.
“As at the time the warrant was issued, the order for substituted service had not been made. That order was just made this morning”.
Pinheiro, on his part, urged the court to refuse the application unless the defendant made himself available for his trial.
He stated that the defendant cannot stay in hiding and file numerous applications for his arrest warrant to be vacated.
He held that Bello should not be heard on the applied application.
“The main issue should be ascertaining the whereabouts of the defendant. All these applications he is filing are nothing but dilatory tactics intended to delay his arraignment and frustrate the proceedings.
“Our position is that the defendant should be denied the right of being heard until he is physically present before this court.”
Pinehero also held that as stated in section 396 of ACJA, 2015, the court cannot effectively assume jurisdiction to decide any application or objection in the matter, until the defendant is arraigned.
After taking arguments from both parties, Justice Nwite adjourned for ruling.
“The Case has been adjourned till 10/5 for ruling.”

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