Alleged N80.2bn money laundering: Court shifts Yahaya Bello’s arraignment to June 27

By Adeyanju Esther

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja has postponed the arraignment of former Kogi State governor Yahaya Adoza Bello to June 27, 2024.

The decision, made on Thursday, June 13, 2024, followed a dispute between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the defence counsel over the actual date for Bello’s court appearance.

Defence counsel Adeola Adedipe, SAN, claimed that EFCC lead counsel Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, requested a new date as June 13 was inconvenient.

However, prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, denied any such request, asserting that the court had set June 13 at the previous session.

Oyedepo emphasised the importance of respecting the court’s decisions and criticised the defence for attempting to shift blame.

He stated, “At the last adjourned date, Mr. AbdulWahab, SAN, myself leading the prosecution team, and Adedipe were all present. The record will show that the matter was adjourned in an open court.”

He further noted that the defence had committed to producing Bello in court on June 13 but failed to do so. Oyedepo urged the court to disregard any defence applications until the defendant appeared.

Adedipe apologised for any miscommunication, accepting full responsibility for Bello’s absence and explaining it was based on an agreement between the lead counsels. He requested the court to adjourn the matter to June 27, 2024.

Oyedepo accepted the apology and asked the court to record it, insisting that the defence must ensure Bello’s appearance at the next session.

Justice Nwite agreed and rescheduled the arraignment for June 27, 2024.

The EFCC is prosecuting Yahaya Bello, along with his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, and Abdulsalam Hudu, on 19 counts of money laundering totaling N80,246,470,089.88.

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