Alleged N80.2 billion fraud: Ex-Kogi governor Yahaya Bello fails to appear in court again

Yahaya Bello, former Governor of Kogi State, has continuously failed to appear in court for his trial on charges of N80.2 billion fraud instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The ex-governor was scheduled to be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja in a 19-count charge, as revealed on the court’s cause list for today.

But the defendant did not show up resulting in an argument between lawyers to the parties.

A new date, June 27, had been reportedly fixed for hearing in the alleged money laundering case instituted by EFCC against Bello, at the instance of the anti-graft agency’s lawyers.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, counsel to Bello, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, told the court that the EFCC lawyers approached Aliyu AbdulWahab, SAN, who is the counsel for the defendant, that the June 13 date would not be convenient for them to proceed and that Wahab had to agree by way of convenience for another date to be set.

He said he was surprised when he heard that EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo was in court.

“They (EFCC) agreed that junior counsel would be sent to court today to formally pick a date. And the registry can confirm this,” Adedipe said.

“Kemi Pinhero, SAN, has been calling us to say today is not convenient,” he added. Kemi Pinhero is the lead counsel.

But for the decision of the EFCC to seek an adjournment to a future date for his arraignment, Bello was said to be ready to appear in court on Thursday.

Under 266 ACJA there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe noted.

Meanwhile, the court has fixed June 27 as the new date for the arraignment.

Yahaya Adoza Bello, Ali Bello, Dauda Suliman, and Abdulsalam Hudu (still at large) are accused of conspiring in February 2016 to convert N80,246,470,088.88, which was allegedly obtained through a criminal breach of trust, violating Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.

Between July 26, 2021, and April 6, 2022, Yahaya Bello is alleged to have aided E-Traders International Limited in concealing N3,081,804,654.00 in an Access Bank account, knowing it was from unlawful activity, thereby violating Sections 18(a) and 15(2)(d) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Additionally, in November 2021, Bello allegedly procured E-Traders International Limited to transfer $570,330.00 to a TD Bank account in the USA, also from unlawful activity, violating Section 15(2)(d) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.

Culled from Ir