• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Court knocks Yahaya Bello, restates order for his arrest

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has knocked Yahaya Bello, the former governor of Kogi State, for attempting to disrupt the criminal case initiated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling on Friday, restated the April 17 order that mandated security agencies to arrest and present him to court to respond to 19 charges.

The court noted that Bello, by instructing lawyers to question the court’s authority while absent, demonstrated disregard for the court.

It stated that his action to apply indicated his intention to avoid trial and emphasised that he should have surrendered to the authorities once he knew of the arrest warrant.

The court mentioned that established law dictates that anyone who disobeys a court order and shows disrespect cannot expect the court’s leniency. It asserted that Bello should have complied with the court order by presenting himself.

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

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

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

The court declared that Bello intentionally defied its order, which remains effective until overturned. It stated that a party aware of a court order yet choosing not to comply is in contempt.

Justice Nwite mentioned that the Supreme Court had previously condemned the casual approach to court orders like Bello is doing. He concluded that no application could proceed unless Bello appeared in court to enter his plea.

“In view of the forgoing 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,” the judge held.

Bello, who led Kogi state for eight years, faces charges related to alleged involvement in money laundering, breach of trust, and misuse of public funds amounting to approximately N80.2 billion.