Yahaya Bello to be arraigned on June 27 over  N80.2bn fraud

Former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, will be arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on June 27, 2024.

The court adjourned Bello’s arraignment on Thursday, following the absence of Kemi Pinheiro, the lead counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Pinheiro had informed Belo’s lawyers that he would not be present in court and asked for a new date for the defendant to enter a plea to the 19-count indictment filed against him by the anti-graft agency.

While both parties agreed to send legal representations to the court for a new date, drama ensured when Rotimi Oyedepo appeared for the EFCC when the matter was called in court. Oyedepo expressed his readiness to proceed with the case after he registered his presence.

One of Bello’s defence attorneys, Adeola Adedipe, informed the court of the agreement reached by both parties before Oyedepo’s appearance. Adedipe said he was in court for another case and not that of the ex-governor.

According to him, Pinheiro told lead defence counsel Abdulwahab Mohammed at his office, through a junior attorney who co-appeared in court with Oyedepo — that it would not be convenient for them to continue with the hearing on Thursday.

“And as senior counsel, it was best agreed by way of convenience for another date,” Adedipe said.

“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 was 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.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It was the prosecuting counsel that approached us; we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide.”

Responding, Oyedepo said he was unaware of any meeting between Pinheiro and the defence.

However, a senior lawyer, Simon Lough, who came for another matter, stood up to intervene.

After listening to the lawyers, Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, agreed to shift the arraignment to June 27.

The former Kogi governor is accused of complicity in money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

On April 17, the EFCC had also obtained a warrant of arrest against the former governor, which he failed to vacate after an application to the court.

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