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‘N80.2bn fraud’: Court refuses to vacate arrest warrant against Yahaya Bello

Yahaya Bello on Kogi teachers Yahaya Bello on Kogi teachers

A federal high court in Abuja has refused to vacate a warrant of arrest issued against Yahaya Bello, former Kogi state governor.

Emeka Nwite, presiding judge, criticised Bello for filing applications despite his refusal to show up in court.

He described the actions of the former governor as an attempt to truncate the case preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

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The commission had also obtained a warrant of arrest against the former governor on April 17.

At the scheduled arraignment on April 18, Bello was absent.

Abdulwahab Mohammed, counsel to Bello, had told the judge that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the warrant of arrest in the first instance.

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He referenced the February 9 interim injunction issued by the Kogi high court, which restrained the commission from arresting Bello.

At another court session, Adeola Adedipe, a member of Bello’s legal team, said his client would have appeared in court but was worried about being taken into custody.

Adedipe argued that the charge had not been served on his client as required by law, at the time the warrant of arrest was made.

He asked the court to revoke the warrant of arrest issued on April 17 against the former governor.

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Nwite then made an order directing that the defendant be served the charges by substituted means through his lawyers.

The judge subsequently adjourned the case to May 10 for ruling.

‘NO RESPECT FOR THE COURT’

At the resumed court session on Friday, Nwite said Bello “has no atom of respect and regard for the court”.

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He held that Bello’s decision to file the application “is clearly showing his intention not to present himself for trial”.

“The law is settled that he who disobeyed an order of court and shown disrespect to the court cannot expect a favourable discretion of the court,” the judge said.

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“The honourable thing the defendant would have done was to obey the order of court by making himself available.

“Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, mandates all persons and authority to give effect to orders of court.

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“He has wilfully disobeyed the order of this court. An order of court of competent jurisdiction, no matter how it was obtained, subsists until it is set aside.

“A party who refuses to obey an order of court after becoming aware of it, is in contempt of court.

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“He is not entitled to be heard or granted a favourable discretion.

“The refusal of the defendant to make himself available is solely to truncate the arraignment and prevent the court from proceeding further in this case.

“Refusal of the defendant to make himself available is an attempt to truncate this court and make it practically impossible for the court to assume jurisdiction in this criminal trial.

“He ought to make himself available. He cannot sit in the comfort of his home to file applications before this court.

“The defendant has no atom or regard for the court.

“Clearly, the defendant is taking this court for granted.

“In view of the foregoing analysis, I am of the view and I so hold, that no application can be moved or heard unless the defendant is present before the court to take his plea.”

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