Court Declines Yahaya Bello’s Plea To Transfer ₦80bn Fraud Case To Kogi

The plea to move the ₦80.2 billion fraud trial of former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, from Abuja to Kogi State was denied by Justice John Tsoho, the chief judge of the Federal High Court.

The court ordered Bello to appear in open court on Monday to present his motion to transfer the money laundering case that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed against him to Kogi State.

In a letter to Misters Abdul-Wahab Muhammed and Musa Yakubu, the former governor’s counsel, the chief judge informed them that their client was seeking a consequential order remitting the case to the chief judge for reassignment in the case Yahaya Adoza Bello v. FRN, which was already on appeal.

Therefore, it would be improper to do anything that might anticipate the decision of the appeal, according to the letter signed by his special assistant.

As far as we can tell, the appeal in Yahaya Adoza Bello v. FRN was lodged on May 17, 2024. The defendant, in his capacity as appellant, requested a consequential order that would reassign the matter to the chief judge. Until the appeal is decided, it is inappropriate to do anything.

Because this is primarily a jurisdictional dispute, the court will rule on it more appropriately. For that reason, the CJ suggested bringing the case to a public judge.

The chief justice made it clear that the primary accusation may be filed in either Abuja or Lokoja, and that it pertained to the use of Kogi state monies for the acquisition of Abuja properties.

Two cases that are currently being heard by the FHC are FHC/ABJ/CR/550/22 FRN VS Ali Bello and another, and there was also a case where the lower court denied a transfer request similar to this one, FRN VS Ali Bello and three others.

In June, when he entered his plea, Bello stated his preference to be arraigned in Lokoja, the location of the suspected money laundering crime.

During the hearing, Bello informed Justice Emeka Nwite that his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), had sent the letter to the Chief Judge asking for an administrative judgement to move the trial.

According to Adedipe, the reason for requesting Lokoja was so that the case may be heard in Lokoja by the Federal High Court, which has geographical authority.

Letter addressed to Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) signed by Special Assistant to the Chief Judge Joshua Ibrahim Aji, Esq.

The transfer request was strongly resisted by the EFCC lead lawyer, Dr. Kemi Pinheiro, who saw it as an effort to delay the trial.

Justice Emeka Nwite was urged by the EFCC counsel to punish Adeola Adedipe (SAN) and Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN) for failing to appear in court with their client, despite their promises.

Additionally, the EFCC attorney requested that the two senior attorneys be cited for contempt of court.

After considering the EFCC’s motion to summon the senior attorneys for contempt, the court set July 17 for the former governor’s arraignment.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) intends to press charges against Bello on nineteen counts relating to alleged ₦80.2bn in misappropriated monies, breach of trust, and money laundering.



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