Please refer my N80 billion fraud trial to my home state, wanted former governor bello tells court

The wanted former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has requested for transfer of his N80 billion fraud trial to the court’s division in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, as he on Thursday again snubbed the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Penpushing reports that Bello who is facing 19 counts of money laundering involving over N80 billion allegedly diverted from the coffers of Kogi State during his tenure as Governor, made the request through his lawyers

The embattled former Governor who for the fifth time failed to appear in Abuja court, represented by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Adeola Adedipe, his lead counsel before the scheduled proceeding on Thursday informed the trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, on request for transfer of the case to his home state.

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Penpushing further reports that the trial judge disclosed the accused defence lawyers had sent a letter to the court’s Chief Judge requesting the transfer of the case to Lokoja, as the counsels explained that the request to transfer the case is based on their legal consideration that Lokoja is a more suitable territorial jurisdiction to hear the matter.

“Although the letter requesting the transfer of this matter to Lokoja was written by Yahaya Bello’s lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, I am, however, under obligation to draw the attention of this honourable court to the issue’,Adedipe said.

“We requested in substance that this matter be administratively transferred to the Federal High Court, Lokoja Judicial Division, which we believe has territorial jurisdiction to handle this matter’, the lead counsel stated

Penpushing also reports that Adedipe explained that the defence equally wrote a letter on June 13, 2024 to inform the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), about the defendant’s request.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) added that the letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was sent through Rotimi Oyedepo, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and senior prosecution team member.

Penpushing reports that Adedipe in the same vein informed the judge that the Chief Judge’s office has sent correspondence dated June 14, 2024 to the prosecution to ask for their stance on the request.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC’s) lead counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), however, opposed the case transfer application, describing it as an attempt to frustrate the trial.

Penpushing further reports that the anti-graft agency counsel urged the judge to hold Messrs Adedipe and Mohammed, the two senior advocates in the defence team, responsible for their inability to produce their client in court despite their undertaking, and prayed the court to cite the two lawyers for contempt for violating the undertaking they gave the court at previous proceedings.

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