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Yahaya Bello Charged with Multi-Billion Naira Fraud

Former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, has been formally charged with financial misconduct involving billions of naira, as his legal representation received the charges on his behalf. The charges were issued following a decision by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja, who ruled that Bello could be served through his counsel after he failed to appear in court once more.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Bello, alongside three associates—Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, and Abdulsalam Hudu—on a staggering 19-count indictment that details alleged money laundering activities amounting to approximately N80.25 billion.

During the court session held on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, Bello’s legal team, led by Adeola Adedipe (SAN), made a case for dismissing the existing arrest warrant. They argued that the recent act of serving the charges to Bello’s lawyer, Abdulwahab Muhammad (SAN), should nullify the warrant previously granted to the EFCC.

“The court is expected to do justice at all times. A warrant of arrest cannot be hanging on Bello’s neck when we are in this court. It appears to us that the defendant will not get justice because the court granted a warrant of arrest before service,” he said.

However, prosecution counsel, Kemi Piniero (SAN) in responseurged the court to decline hearing on any motion from Bello’s legal team until the defendant is physically present in court for his arraignment.

“The stage we are in now is to determine the whereabouts of the defendant. He cannot be in his house while the trial proceeds without him coming here to take his plea. My Lord, this is a criminal matter not a civil matter, he must come and take his plea. It is a matter of over N80 billion. All these applications by the defendant are to prevent his arraignment and frustrate the commencement of trial,” he said.

After hearing both counsels, Justice Nwite adjourned ruling on the defence’s application, seeking a revocation of the arrest warrant on Bello till May 10, 2024.

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