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Yahaya Bello : New twist as EFCC seeks to jail 2 senior lawyers

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has requested the Federal High Court in Abuja to consider contempt charges against two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Ifedayo Adedipe and Abdulwahab Muhammed.


This follows their failure to produce former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello for arraignment, despite assurances given to the court.


Judge Emeka Nwite had adjourned the proceedings until Thursday based on the commitment made by the SANs to ensure Bello’s presence, but he was absent once again.


The court has now set July 17 for a ruling on the EFCC’s application to cite the two defence counsel for contempt.


In response, Bello wrote to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court requesting that his trial for an alleged N80.2 billion laundering charge be transferred to Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State. In a letter penned by Muhammed, Bello argued that since the funds in question belong to the state, the trial should rightfully be held in Lokoja.


“We hereby apply for the transfer of the case from the Abuja judicial division to the Lokoja division of the Federal High Court,” the letter stated, citing the location of the alleged offenses and the jurisdiction of the court.


The Chief Judge has directed the EFCC to respond to Bello’s request within six days, following a letter dated June 14 addressed to EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN).


During the recent court session, Adedipe referred to both the letters from Bello and the Chief Judge when discussing the arraignment. He indicated that the issue of Bello’s appearance in court should be put on hold pending the outcome of his client’s request.


Prosecuting counsel Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) contested Adedipe’s stance, arguing that the court had scheduled the arraignment based on the assurance that Bello would be present, which was not fulfilled.


“The letter to the Chief Judge does not negate the undertaking,” Pinheiro asserted, emphasizing that the failure to produce Bello constituted professional misconduct and potential contempt of court.


The judge adjourned the matter until July 17 to rule on the EFCC’s application for contempt charges against the two SANs and the subsequent arraignment of Yahaya Bello.

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