‘I Want To Be Tried In Kogi Not Abuja’ – Ex-Gov Yahaya Bello Writes Federal High Court From Hiding

In an unprecedented turn of events, the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, has written to the Federal High Court, Abuja, requesting that he prefers being tried in Kogi High Court instead of the federal court in Abuja.

Bello again refused to appear before the Federal High Court to be arraigned and enter his plea.

Bello went into hiding after being chased by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or EFCC. The anti-graft agency had stormed his house in Abuja to effect his arrest to face trial on charges bordering on money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of about N80.2bn.

But a stand-off ensued as the former governor refused to grant the EFCC access to the house for over six hours.

However, respite came his way when his successor, Governor Usman Ododo with his security detail drove into the house and escaped with his predecessor, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

But on Thursday, he shocked the court via a letter delivered on his behalf through his team of lawyers led by Abdulwahab Mohammed, claiming that only the Kogi High Court in Lokoja has the territorial jurisdiction to preside over the allegations that were brought against him.

Adeola Adedipe, one of the lawyers in Bello’s team, told the court about the letter.

Adedipe, while addressing the court said after the close of the last sitting, he relayed what transpired to his team and was informed that a letter had been written on behalf of the defendant to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

“Requesting in substance that this matter be administratively transferred to the Federal High Court, Lokoja Judicial Division, which we believe has territorial jurisdiction to handle this matter,” the letter read before Justice Emeka Nwite said.

Bello further explained, “That letter was received at the Chief Judge’s Chambers and the office of the honourable CJ.

“We wrote the prosecution team through Mr Iseoluwa Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, on June 13, notifying him that administrative steps had been activated, whereof he was directed to provide a response to the request for transfer of the matter,” Adedipe said.

He, however, noted that “We are also not in receipt of any decision that has been made on this request by the CJ.

He further added that they have filed an affidavit to this effect and attached two documents referencing the same.

He informed the court that he was not urging anything from the court at the moment although his duty is to the court.

He added that he just wanted to present the facts as they were.

The prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinhero, requested the court to compel the defence lawyer to state why Bello failed to appear in court, despite an undertaking he made on June 13.

The defence team had undertaken an undertaking that Bello would be present in court at the next hearing.

The prosecution team lamented that the scheduled arraignment had been adjourned multiple times and sought the court to take action arguing that the letter did not address why Bello was absent again in court.

He further argued that a petition forwarded against a judge to the National Judicial Council does not in any way stop proceedings on cases pending before the judge.

Consequently, he told the court to invite the defence counsels to show cause why they should not be dealt with for contemptuous conduct.

He urged the trial judge to dismiss the tales of the defence lawyer as “dilatory and a further attempt to treat this court with scorn.”

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