Court adjourns Yahaya Bello’s arraignment till July 17

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday adjourned the arraignment of the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, till July 17, 2024.

Bello is facing a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of about N80.2bn brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

At Thursday’s proceeding, Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), applied to withdraw his appearance for Bello.

Earlier, Adedipe brought the court’s attention to an application before the Chief Judge for transfer of charge no: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 to the Federal High Court, Lokoja, pursuant to Section 45 of the Federal High Court Establishment Act.

He said the prosecution had been notified and their opinion had been sought via a letter dated June 14, 2024 from the Chief Judge’s office.

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

Recall that Bello was billed to appear in court June 13, (the last adjourned date), but the proceeding was adjourned till June 27 on the EFCC lead counsel’s indication that the previous date would not be convenient.

Adedipe reminded the court that his appearance at the last hearing was accidental and that this would be seen from the court’s records.

Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), on his part, urged the judge to punish Bello’s counsel for failing to present their client for his scheduled arraignment.

He argued that the lawyers breached the rules of professional conduct.

He noted that Order 31(3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners states that any lawyer who fails to comply with an undertaking made before a court, aside from being in contempt, is automatically guilty of misconduct.

Pinheiro stressed that the matter was for arraignment and the former Governor’s counsel had, on June 13, undertaken to produce the defendant in court.

After arguments back and forth, Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned till July 17 for ruling and arraignment.

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