Former Kogi Gov. Bello requests trial in state court

By Innocent Raphael

The immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello has requested to be tried by the state’s high court, after he was absent from his scheduled arraignment and plea bargain at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday.

In a letter presented to the court, Bello expressed a preference to be tried in his home state.

Bello, through his legal team led by Abdulwahab Mohammed, argued that only the Kogi High Court in Lokoja possesses the territorial jurisdiction to oversee the allegations against him.

This claim was relayed to the court by Adeola Adedipe, another member of Bello’s defense team.

Addressing the court, Adedipe detailed the contents of the letter sent to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, requesting the case be transferred to the Lokoja Judicial Division. He informed the court that this letter had been received and that the prosecution team, led by Iseoluwa Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, was notified on June 13 to provide a response to the transfer request.

Adedipe stated that no response had been received from the prosecution, nor had any decision been made by the Chief Judge regarding the transfer request.

He further noted that an affidavit had been filed to support their claims, with relevant documents attached.

Despite presenting these facts, Adedipe clarified that he was not seeking any immediate action from the court but merely fulfilling his duty to present the situation as it stood.

In response, prosecution counsel Kemi Pinhero urged the court to compel Bello’s defense to explain his absence, pointing out that a previous commitment had been made to ensure Bello’s presence at the hearing.

Pinhero argued that the letter to the Chief Judge did not absolve the defense of their undertaking and suggested that Bello’s legal team should be held accountable for contemptuous conduct.

Pinhero described the defense’s actions as dilatory and disrespectful to the court, urging Justice Emeka Nwite to dismiss the defense’s explanations.

Bello is facing charges from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) related to money laundering, breach of trust, and the misappropriation of public funds amounting to approximately N80.2 billion.

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