Yahaya Bello's Bid to Hear N80bn Fraud Case in Kogi Rejected

Former Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State
Former Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi StateWikipedia

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has declined the request to transfer the N80.2 billion fraud trial of former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, from Abuja to Kogi State.

In a letter dated July 2 and signed by his Special Assistant, Joshua Aji, the Chief Judge said he agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that Bello should be tried in Abuja and not Kogi State.

Justice Tsoho rejected Bello's application dated June 10, which sought to have his trial for the alleged N80.2 billion fraud transferred to Kogi.

Bello's lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), had on June 27 informed the trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, that his client had applied to have the case transferred to Kogi. Adedipe said Bello took this decision after being briefed about the proceedings on June 13.

However, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), expressed displeasure about the defense's attitude, insisting that Bello ought to have been in court for his arraignment. Pinheiro also opposed Bello's bid to have the case moved to Kogi State.

In his letter, the Chief Judge's Special Assistant stated that the main complaint in the case relates to the alleged conversion and transfer of Kogi State funds to Abuja to purchase property through acts of concealment. He noted that the law permits filing the charge either in Abuja or Lokoja, as the offenses were allegedly committed in both places.

The Chief Judge also pointed to a pending appeal filed by Bello on May 17, 2024, seeking a consequential order to remit the case to the Chief Judge for reassignment. He said it would be improper to take any step that could pre-empt the outcome of the appeal.

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