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Yahaya Bello Speaks On Alleged N80.2bn Fraud, Says ‘I’ll Appear In Court But Can’t Stand Arrest’

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Kogi State’s former Governor, Yahaya Bello, has expressed his willingness to appear in court to face the 19-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). However, he has expressed concerns about being arrested, citing an outstanding arrest warrant.

Bello was absent for his arraignment.

But his legal team, led by Mr. Adeola Adedipe, SAN, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that their client would have been present for his arraignment but feared being taken into custody.

They requested that the court set aside the arrest warrant, arguing that it was issued before the charge was served on Bello as required by law.

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Additionally, Bello’s lawyers contended that the EFCC is an illegal organization, as the Federal Government did not consult with the 36 states of the federation before enacting the EFCC Act.

They argued that this violates section 12 of the 1999 Constitution, which requires ratification by state Houses of Assembly.

“This is a very serious matter that borders on the constitution and the tenets of federalism. It has to be resolved because as it stands, the EFCC is an illegal organization,” Bello’s lawyer added.

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The EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, opposed the application, stating that the arrest warrant should not be set aside until Bello presents himself for trial.

Pinheiro argued that Bello’s absence and numerous applications are dilatory tactics aimed at delaying his arraignment and frustrating the proceedings.

The court has adjourned the case to a later date, with the EFCC offering not to execute the arrest warrant if Bello’s lawyers ensure his presence on the next adjourned date.

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The EFCC also maintained that the Supreme Court has already settled the issue of its legality.

“The defendant cannot stay in hiding and be filing numerous applications. He cannot ask for the arrest order to be vacated until and when the defendant is present in court for his arraignment. He cannot be heard on that applied application.

“The main issue should be ascertaining the whereabouts of the defendant. All these applications he is filing are nothing but dilatory tactics intended to delay his arraignment and frustrate the proceedings.

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“If he wants the order of arrest to be discharged, let him come here and make the application.

“Our position is that the defendant should be denied the right of being heard, until he is physically present before this court.”

“If he gives an undertaking that his client will be in court on the next date, I can assure him that the arrest warrant will not be executed.

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“If he gives that assurance, as the prosecution, I will personally apply for the warrant to discharged,” EFCC’s lawyer, Pinheiro, SAN, added.

“The charge before this court is not against a state or House of Assembly, but against an individual who is said to have laundered public funds.

“It is against an individual who is said to have taken public funds to buy houses in Lagos, Maitama and also transfered funds to his accounts abroad,” EFCC added.

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(Additional reporting by Vanguard)

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