EFCC: Court Set New Date For Yahaya Bello’s Arraignment

The trial of the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, has been postponed by the Federal High Court in Abuja.

In a sitting on Thursday, the court set July 17, 2024, for Bello’s trial.

Naija News reports that Bello, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently facing a multitude of charges, including 19 counts, which include allegations of money laundering, breach of trust, and the misappropriation of public funds amounting to approximately N80.2 billion, as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

During the proceedings on Thursday, Bello’s legal representative, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), sought permission to withdraw his client’s appearance.

Adedipe earlier highlighted an application to transfer the case from the Chief Judge for the Federal High Court, Abuja, to the Federal High Court, Lokoja, pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Establishment Act.

He informed the court that the prosecution had been duly notified and had sought their opinion through a letter dated June 14, 2024, from the office of the Chief Judge.

This letter, addressed to the counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), was signed by the Special Assistant to the Chief Judge, Joshua Aji.

It is important to note that Bello was scheduled to appear in court on June 13 (the last adjourned date), but the proceedings were postponed to June 27, based on the EFCC lead counsel’s indication that the previous date would not be feasible.

Adedipe emphasized that Bello’s attendance at the last hearing was accidental, as evidenced by records in the court.

Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) argued for Bello’s counsel to be penalized for their failure to appear for Bello’s scheduled arraignment, citing a breach of the rules of professional conduct.

He pointed out that Rule 31(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners states that a lawyer who does not comply with an undertaking made before a court, aside from being in contempt, is automatically guilty of misconduct.

Pinheiro highlighted that the matter was for arraignment, and Bello’s counsel had undertaken to appear in court on June 13.

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