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Home » Alleged N80.2b Money Laundering:  Court Shifts Yahaya Bello’s Arraignment To June 27

Alleged N80.2b Money Laundering:  Court Shifts Yahaya Bello’s Arraignment To June 27

…As Court Of Appeal Quashes Contempt Charge Against EFCC,  Olukoyede

by eighteenelevenmedia
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Ayuba Sanusi 

JUSTICE Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday (Thursday 13 June 2024) adjourned the arraignment proceedings of the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Mr Yahaya Adoza Bello to 27 June 2024. This is even as the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal quashed a previous ruling made by a Kogi State High Court against the EFCC and its Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, concerning a contempt case and restraining order filed by Mr Bello.

In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Joseph O.K. Oyewole, the appellate court on Thursday, 13 June 2024  held that  “a court of law cannot preclude the EFCC or any Law Enforcement Agency from investigating and prosecuting crime.  This is a fundamental jurisdictional point that cannot be shoved aside as it borders on the doctrine of separation of powers. The argument of the Respondent that no ground covers this point cannot stand in view of the instant circumstance”.

The EFCC had approached the appellate court to halt the execution of an order of Justice Isa Jamil of the Kogi State High Court summoning Olukoyede to defend allegations of disobedience of court orders. Besides, the Commission also challenged another order of the court restraining it from harassing, arresting, or detaining Mr Bello pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The appellate court on Thursday allowed the EFCC’s appeal and overruled Mr Bello’s preliminary objection. The court was of the view that it should not be drawn into the well of technicalities and granted the Commission the authority to continue its prosecution of Mr Bello.  It also awarded a fine of One Million Naira (N1,000,000) against the former governor.

Justice Jamil had on  25 April 2024, in an ex parte ruling, ordered that Olukoyede should be summoned to appear before the court to answer a contempt charge.  

According to the court, Mr Bello tendered exhibits before it that Olukoyede and the EFCC “carried out some acts upon which they have been restrained by this court on 9  February 2024 pending the determination of the substantive motion on Notice before this court ”.

Miffed by the order of the Kogi High Court, Olukoyede approached the appellate court to challenge the lower court’s order with the aim of setting it aside. The Thursday judgment of the Court of Appeal finally laid to rest the charges of Bello against the EFCC and its Chairman.

Meanwhile, the adjournment at the Federal High Court, Abuja followed a disagreement between the EFCC and defence counsel on the actual date of Bello’s appearance in court for his arraignment. While defence counsel, Adeola Adedipe (SAN) told the court that EFCC  lead counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) requested a new date owing to the fact that the 13 June date was not convenient for him, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), one of the prosecution counsel, denied any request for a new date of arraignment.

Addressing the court on the issue,  Oyedepo said the matter was adjourned till 13 June 2024 at the last sitting of the court. “With due respect to my learned friend, I think this court deserves respect. Attempting to rob the officers of the court, as well as a desperate attempt to describe the prosecution team as one whose house is scattered, is quite unfortunate coming from my learned colleague. At the last adjourned date, Mr. AbdulWahab (SAN) was here, myself leading the prosecution team and he, Adedipe. We were all here, and the record of my Lord will show that the matter was adjourned in an open court and on record”. 

Continuing,  Oyedepo stated that,  “My Lord, the defence made an undertaking to produce the defendant today. So my Lord,  assuming that there was any conversation between the defence and the prosecution to adjourn the matter, the main issue of today is the appearance of the defendant, but they refused to bring him to court. 

“Instead of admitting to this, he is bringing the prosecution into it. I’m appealing that the court should not entertain any application from them till they bring the defendant or show where he is and stop blaming us and the officers of the court, and also apologize to us and the court for not bringing their client to court,”.

Meanwhile, Adedipe apologized,  saying; “If there’s any misrepresentation, I apologize and take full responsibility. I apologize to the court that the defendant is not here, and I equally apologize to the prosecution, but it was based on the agreement of the lead counsel. So I’m applying the matter to 27 June 2024.

Oyedepo thereafter accepted the apology while urging the court to capture it on record that the defence apologized and to make them produce the defendant to take his plea on the next adjourned date.  

After listening to both counsel, Justice Nwite adjourned the matter till 27 June 2024 for Mr Bello to appear before the court to take his plea.

The EFCC is prosecuting Yahaya Bello alongside his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-Six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eighty-Nine Naira, Eighty-Eighty Kobo (N80, 246, 470,089.88k). 

 

Eighteen-Eleven Media 

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