Yahaya Bello Expresses Fewr of Arrest, Wishes to Appear in Court for Alleged Money Laundering Case


Former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Belle expressed fear of arrest and opted not to appear at the Federal Hight Court Abuja to face the 19-count charges by the EFCC. Instead m, his legal team represented him, citing his concern about potential arrest if he attended the proceedings.
“The defendant wants to come to court but he is afraid that there is an order of arrest hanging on his head,” Adedipe, SAN, submitted.

Adesipe requested the court to revoke the earlier ex parte arrest order against the former governor, arguing that when the order was issued, the charge had not been officially served to his client as mandated by the law. He emphasized that it was only during Tuesday’s proceedings that the court approved substitute service of the charge to the defendant through his lawyer.

“As at the time the warrant was issued, the order fit substituted service had not been made. That order was just made this morning. A warrant of arrest should not be hanging in his neck when we leave this court,” counsel to the defendant added.

He stated that the Federal Government passed the EFCC Act through the National Assembly without consulting the 36 states of the federation. He argued that according to section 12 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Act needed ratification by the various States Houses of Assembly to become effective.

“This is a very serious matter that borders on the constitution and the tenets of federalism. It has to be resolved because as it stands, the EFCC is an illegal organization,” Bello’s lawyer added.

However, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, urged the court to reject the application, maintaining that the warrant of arrest should remain in effect until the defendant appears for trial.

”The defendant cannot stay in hiding and be filing numerous applications. He cannot ask for the arrest order to be vacated until and when the defendant is present in court for his arraignment. He cannot be heard on that applied application. The main should be ascertaining the whereabouts of the defendant. All these applications he is filling are nothing but dilatory tactics intended to delay his arraignment and frustrate the proceedings. If he wants the order of arrest to be discharged, let him come here and make the application. Our position is that the defendant should be denied the right of being heard until he is physically present before this court,” Pinheiro said.

The EFCC’s lawyer also contended that in accordance with section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, the court coundnt properly exercise jurisdiction to rule on any application or objection until the defendant is formally arraigned.

The anti-graft agency stated that it wouldn’t enforce the arrest warrant if the defendant’s counsel assures his presence on the next scheduled date.

”If he gives an undertaking that his client will be I. Court on the next date, I can assure him that the arrest warrant will not be executed. If he gives that assurance, as the prosecutor, I will personally apply for the warrant to discharge,” EFCC’s lawyer, Pinheiro, SAN, said.

The EFCC informed the court that the legality of its existence had been settled by the Supreme Court.

”The charge before this court is not against a state or House of Assembly, but against an individual who is said to have laundered public funds. It is against an individual who is said to have taken public funds to buy houses in. Lagos, Maitama and also transferred funds to his accounts abroad,” EFCC’s lawyer added.

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