Yahaya Bello’s attempt to hear the N80 billion fraud case in Kogi fails

Justice John Tsoho, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, has turned down a plea to move Yahaya Bello, the former governor of Kogi State,’s N80.2 billion fraud trial from Abuja to Kogi State.

In a July 2 letter, the CJ said he agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that Bello’s trial ought to take place in Abuja rather than Kogi State, and it was signed by his Special Assistant, Joshua Aji.

Bello’s June 10 motion, requesting that his trial for an alleged N80.2 billion fraud be moved to Kogi, was denied by Justice Tsoho.

Bello’s attorney, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), informed Trial Judge Emeka Nwite on June 27 that his client had requested a transfer of Bello’s case to Kogi.

Adedipe said Bello took the decision to seek the transfer of the matter after he was briefed about what transpired at the June 13 proceedings in court.

Adedipe said, “After the proceeding on that day, we gave him (Bello) the report of what happened in court. I was made to understand that a letter had been written on behalf of the defendant to the honourable Chief Judge of the FHC requesting in substance that this matter be administratively transferred to the FHC Lokoja judicial division believed to have territorial jurisdiction.

“This issue is no longer in the hands of the Bar but the bench. If the honorable Chief Judge has taken an initiative, I need to give him the necessary respect.”

However, EFCC prosecutor Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) voiced her dissatisfaction with the defense’s stance, stating that Bello should have appeared in court for his arraignment.

Pinheiro disagreed with Bello’s request to transfer the case to Kogi State as well.

The Chief Justice expressed agreement with the EFCC that the matter had to be tried in Abuja in a letter to the attorney.

“His Lordship, the Honourable, the Chief Judge has directed me to inform you that he has considered your arguments in support of the application for transfer of the defendant’s case from Abuja to Lokoja and the response of Dr. ‘Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, to the same,” wrote Aji, the SA for the CJ, in the letter.

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