• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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EFCC charge: Court fixes April 23 for ruling on substituted service on Yahaya Bello

Yahaya Bello: A white lion or a big cat?

A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned till April 23, the decision on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) request for a substituted service of charges on Yahaya Bello, former governor of Kogi State.

Justice Emeka Nwite set the date following arguments from EFCC’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, and Bello’s lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, regarding the application.

On the scheduled day for Bello’s arraignment on a 19-count money laundering charge, he was absent, but his legal team was present.

Mohammed, representing Bello, contested the charge, claiming the court lacked jurisdiction and should not have issued an arrest warrant. He mentioned a preliminary objection filed to that effect and referenced a Kogi High Court ruling from February 9, that barred the EFCC from arresting, detaining, or prosecuting Bello, based on a fundamental rights suit.

The EFCC had appealed this order, and the case was set for a hearing.

Mohammed argued that the arrest warrant was an attempt to conflict with the Court of Appeal and that the charge should not have been filed pending the appeal.

He suggested that the court should serve him with the charge in court as Bello’s representative, but clarified he was not authorised to accept it on Bello’s behalf. The lawyer maintained that if the EFCC could not serve Bello directly, they should apply formally, allowing the defendant to respond.

Pinheiro, however, countered Mohammed’s claims, stating that since Mohammed appeared for Bello, he could be served in court to proceed with the arraignment.

The court will rule on the substituted service on April 23.

On Wednesday, Justice Nwite ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant for Bello despite a Kogi High Court’s restraining order against the EFCC.