Bello Fails to Appear in Court, Begs to Face Trial in Kogi

Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the immediate past Governor of Kogi State has written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, pleading to be allowed to face his trial in Kogi.

Mr Bello who is facing a 19-count charge wrote through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, maintained that only Lokoja Division of the high court has the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the allegations that were raised against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The letter was brought to the attention of the trial Judge Justice Emeka Nwite by a lawyer that announced appearance for him, Mr. Adeola Adedipe, SAN following his failed appearance on Thursday at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Addressing the court after the matter was called, Adedipe, SAN, said, “My lord, after the proceedings of the last adjourned date, I went back and gave a report of what happened in court to our team.

“However, I was made to understand that a letter had been written on behalf of the defendant to the honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court requesting in substance, that this matter be administratively transferred to the Federal High Court, Lokoja Judicial Division, which we believe have territorial jurisdiction to handle this matter.

“That letter was received at the Chief Judge’s Chambers and the office of the of honourable CJ wrote the prosecution team through Mr. Iseoluwa Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, on June 13, notifying him that administrative steps has been activated, whereof he was directed to provide a response to the request for transfer of the matter.

“My lord, as of this morning, I am not aware whether there has been a response by the prosecution team in compliance to the directive of the CJ.

“We are also not in receipt of any decision that has been made on this request by the CJ.

“I am also aware that this administrative directive of the CJ has been formally communicated to this court.

“We have filed an affidavit wherein we attached two documents referencing the details that I have just highlighted.

“My duty is first to the court. As of the moment, I am not urging anything from the court, but just to present the facts as they were,” Adedipe, SAN, added.

On his part, the EFCC, through its counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, urged the court to compel the defence lawyer to explain why the defendant was not in court, despite an undertaking he made on June 13 to ensure his presence in court for arraignment.

He prayed the court to dismiss “the story of the defence lawyer as dilatory and a further attempt to treat this court with scorn.”

The EFCC counsel argued that the letter to the CJ did not fulfill the commitments made by the senior lawyers representing the defendant.

Pinheiro, SAN, further argued that even when a petition is submitted against a judge to the National Judicial Council, NJC, it does not halt proceedings on cases pending before the judge.

Consequently, he requested the court to summon the two senior lawyers representing the former governor to explain why they should not be held in contempt.

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