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Money laundering: Again, Yahaya Bello absent in court as EFCC wants ex-governor’s whereabouts determined



The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, urged the Federal High Court Abuja and parties to help determine the whereabouts of the former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, who is facing an N80.2 billion money laundering charge alongside his nephew, Ali Bello, and others.

EFCC lawyer, Kemi Piniero (SAN), told Justice Emeka Nwite not to hear any application from Bello’s legal team until he shows up in court to take his plea.

The EFCC had obtained a warrant of arrest from the court against Bello. However, his whereabouts are unknown and has been declared wanted by the police and immigration service.

ThePressNG previously reported that the court had fixed today for a ruling on EFCC’s request to serve the charge sheet by substituted means on Bello’s lawyer, as well as the arraignment of the ex-Kogi governor.

The EFCC alleges that the former governor and others laundered and stole N80, 246,470, 088.88, using same to buy properties in Lagos and Abuja, including warehousing a part of tax-payers funds in his personal bank account in the United States.

At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, Justice Nwite agreed with the EFCC by ordering that the charge sheet be served on Bello’s lawyer in open court.

Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), then told the judge that having been served with the charge sheet, the court should determine his two motions first.

The first motion challenges the jurisdiction of the court while the second seeks an order setting aside a warrant of arrest issued against the former governor.

He said the warrant of arrest should not stand when his lawyers have accepted the charge sheet, adding that his client feels he would not get justice from the way EFCC was going about the issue.

He said,

But EFCC’s lawyer, Piniero, replied that the basis upon which the court could assume jurisdiction is the presence of Yahaya Bello.

He urged the court to decline hearing any motion from Bello’s legal team until the defendant is physically present for his arraignment.

Peniero also promised the court that if Bello comes for arraignment, the EFCC will not arrest him. However, that offer was immediately rejected by the defense.

After hearing the parties, the judge fixed May 10, 2024, for ruling on the application seeking revocation of the warrant of arrest.