Alleged ₦80bn Fraud: Court Shifts Yahaya Bello’s Arraignment To June 27

The Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the arraignment of the former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, in an alleged money laundering case instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to June 27, 2024 following an agreement by the lawyers of the two parties.

Today, June 13, 2024, had earlier been fixed for arraignment of the former governor at the instance of the EFCC lawyers.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, a lawyer to Bello, Adeola Adedipe, told the court that the EFCC lawyers approached the lead counsel to the former governor, Abdulwahab Mohammed, that the June 13 date would not be convenient for them to proceed with the arraignment.

He added that all parties agreed at the meeting that June 13 was not convenient and June 27 would be more convenient to produce the defendant in court.

Adedipe said he was surprised at the posture of the prosecution team because it seemed there was a breach of communication between EFCC lead counsel, Kemi Phinhero; and Rotimi Oyedepo, who made an appearance for the anti-graft agency.

Oyedepo, however, said he was not aware of any meeting that happened outside the court and he did not know about the understanding to adjourn Bello’s arraignment to June 27.

Justice Emeka Nwite thereafter adjourned the case to June 27 after an undertaking by Bello’s lawyer, Adedipe, that the defendant would appear in court on that day.

He added that ordinarily, an agreement outside the court, that a new date should be picked, should not be enough to ignore the previous undertaking.

Bello was the governor of Kogi State from January 27, 2016, to January 27, 2024, when he handed over to his fellow party man in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Usman Ododo.

On April 17, 2024, armed EFCC operatives laid siege to Bello’s Abuja residence to arrest him but Ododo arrived at the house and allegedly whisked away his predecessor.

The EFCC subsequently declared Bello wanted, warning that obstruction to its operations won’t be tolerated, a move backed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi. Fagbemi advised Bello to turn himself in.