EFCC Chair: Yahaya Bello Diverted Kogi's $720,000 for Child's Tuition

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, postponed the ruling in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) case against Yahaya Bello, the former governor of Kogi State, until May 10. Bello faces a 19-count charge relating to money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds totaling N80.2 billion.

Justice Emeka Nwite had previously adjourned for arraignment and ruling after Bello failed to appear in court. Once again, Bello was absent for his arraignment on Tuesday. In response, Justice Nwite instructed the EFCC to serve a copy of the proof of evidence and charge against Bello to his counsel by Section 382(4) and (5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.

Despite initial reluctance, Abdulwahab Mohammed, who had previously announced an unconditional appearance for Bello, accepted the charge upon insistence from Justice Nwite. The court highlighted the provision for substituted service when personal service becomes impractical, allowing for delivery to the defendant’s counsel or an adult in his household.

Justice Nwite emphasized the necessity of effective service for the court to assume jurisdiction, cautioning that decisions made without service are vulnerable to appellate challenges. Meanwhile, a member of Bello’s legal team appealed for reversing the arrest warrant issued against Bello, expressing fear of its execution.

EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), indicated readiness to set aside the arrest warrant if Bello appeared in court as required, reassuring that the warrant could be revoked upon his compliance. However, Bello’s counsel argued against the warrant, citing the lack of proper service of the charge before its issuance.

Pinheiro countered, urging the court to deny Bello’s application unless he made himself available for trial, asserting that Bello’s absence and subsequent legal maneuvers were delaying tactics. He emphasized that Bello should not be granted an audience until physically present in court, citing provisions of the ACJA, 2015, which prohibit the court from entertaining applications or objections until the defendant is arraigned.

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