Lawyer Reveals Date When He Will Produce Yahaya Bello in Court


Lawyer to the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN) promised on Friday, May 10, that his client would appear in court on June 13 in respect of the 19-count charge money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In the charge, the EFCC accused Bello of laundering about N80.2 billion belonging to Kogi state.

On Friday, Mohammed gave the assurance to produce Bello on Friday after a Federal High Court rejected his application for a stay of proceedings in the case pending the determination of an appeal by the EFCC in relation to a contempt proceeding initiated before a Kogo High Court against the Chairman of the EFCC.

Mohammed said his client was not afraid to attend court to attend to the charge against him but was afraid and scared of being killed because of the information that he got.

“Our client is not afraid to attend court in respect of the charge. But, he fears for his life, by the information he has. He is afraid and fears for his life. Will the complainant not arrest him when he comes to court? This is one of the issues,” Mohammed said.

Justice Emeka Nwite expressed discomfort about the position of Mohammed, wondering if Bello was the first ex-governor to be invited after office by the EFCC on allegations of corruption.

“Is he the first ex-governor to be invited by the complainant? Is the EFCC q killing machine? An accused person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. We are in a democracy. We all have to respect the rule of law and be law-abiding,” the judge said.

He accused Bello’s lawyers of encouraging him to ignore the court and disregard its order, by fueling him with false claims

Justice Nwite expressed disappointment about the conduct of Bello’s team of lawyers, noting that they have continued to wrongly advise their client.

The judge also agreed with the lawyer to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) that Bello and his client were trying to take the court for a ride.

Upon realising that the court was unwilling to indulge the defendant, Bello’s lawyer, who earlier claimed not to know his client’s whereabouts, promised to locate him and sure he attended the court on the next date.

“He will come to court. We assure the court that he will come. We only need time to reach him. We don’t know where he is at the moment,” Mohammad said.

Following the defendant’s lead lawyer, Justice Nwite adjourned till June 13 for arraignment.

In an earlier ruling, Justice insisted that his court’s order made on April 17 for Bello’s arrest and production in respect of the money laundering case still subsist.

Justice Nwite, in a ruling, held that Bello’s continued refusal to attend court and his frustration with the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to execute the arrest warrant was disrespectful of the court.

The judge held that the court would not entertain the applications filed by Bello unless he appeared in court and pleaded to a 19-count of money laundering charge brought against him by the EFCC.

The judge also rejected the request by Bello’s lawyer, Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN) that further proceedings in the case be stayed pending the determination of the appeal by the EFCC in relation to a contempt case before a High Court of Kogi State, sitting in Lokoja.

Justice Nwite said: “I must state that the deliberate refusal of the defendant (Bello) to make himself available is solely to frustrate the arraignment and prevent the court from proceeding further in this matter as it is only after the arraignment that the court’s jurisdiction over the matter shall be properly invoked.

“What I am trying to say is that the refusal of the defendant to make himself available in this criminal trial under the guise of having a pending application is an attempt to frustrate this honourable court and make it practically impossible for the court to assume jurisdiction over this criminal trial.

“The accused person is required to be present for the commencement of proceedings, which included an arraignment even if the defendant has an objection or any application before the court.

“In deference to court, he ought to make himself present in person. He cannot sit in the comfort of his house, and elect not to come before the court, when he is very much aware, through his counsel, that the matter is coming up for arraignment.

“This goes to show that the defendant has no respect for this court and he is taking the court for granted, Justice Nwite said.

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