Court Denies Yahaya Bello’s Request to Transfer N80.2b Fraud Case to Kogi

Court Denies Yahaya Bello's Request

Yahaya Bello, former Kogi State Governor has been denied his request to transfer his N80.2billion fraud case from the Federal High Court, Abuja Division to the Federal High Court Kogi State Division. The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho turned down Bello’s request.

Justice Tsoho upheld the argument of Dr. Kemi Pinheiro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that Bello’s application failed on three grounds.

Governor Bello is facing a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of public funds of about N80.2b in suit: FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024, before Justice Emeka Nwite.

Although the former Governor has issued statements denying the allegation, he failed to appear before Justice Nwite on June 13th and June 27th, for his arraignment.

At the last hearing, Bello, through his lawyer, Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN), filed an application dated June 10, 2024, to the Chief Judge for the transfer of his trial to the Federal High Court, Lokoja.

But Pinheiro opposed him, arguing among others that since the alleged offences were committed partly in Kogi and Abuja, the case could be filed in either places.

In a July 2nd, 2024, letter, Justice Tosho’s Special Assistant, Joshua Ibrahim Aji, agreed with Pinheiro.

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Aji had said: “I am directed by His Lordship, the Honourable, The Chief Judge 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 same.

“His Lordship’s position on the matter is as follows:

“The main complaint in the case borders on alleged conversion and transfer of funds of Kogi State to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to purchase property through acts of concealment.

“The law permits the filing of the charge either in Abuja, FCT or in Lokoja, Kogi State; the offence(s) having been allegedly partly committed in both places. Hence, this is distinguishable from IBORI v. F.R.N. (2008) LPELR8370

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