Even if arrest warrant was illegally obtained, Bello should appear in court — Judge

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday granted the application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for a former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to appear in court for his trial.

Justice Emeka Nwite held that Alhaji Bello ought to show respect by appearing in court before making any application.

According to Justice Nwite: “Even if the arrest warrant was illegally obtained, the defendant (Bello) should have still shown up in court.”

The Judge had on April 23, 2024 fixed May 10 (today) for the ruling on the ex-governor’s application to set aside the arrest warrant against him.

The Judge had on April 17 issued a warrant to the EFCC for Bello’s arrest.

The order was made after the lawyer who appeared for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), moved the ex-parte application to the effect.

But Bello’s counsel, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), on April 23, 2024 prayed the court to set aside the arrest warrant.

Adedipe canvassed that the arrest warrant had become unnecessary since their lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN), had accepted the service of the charge on behalf of the ex-governor.

He argued that the arrest warrant order, having been made before the charge, ought to be set aside suo motu (on its own accord, without any request by the parties involved).

The senior lawyer argued that contrary to the submission of another lawyer of the EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), that Bello must be in court first before any application could be entertained, being a criminal case, the anti-graft agency also made an application on April 18 after the warrant of arrest was issued to the EFCC on April 17 and that the court granted it.

The lawyer submitted that the arrest warrant was issued in favour of the EFCC by the court in violation of fair hearing to their client. 

According to Adedipe, the complainant made an application for substituted service on April 18, 2024 after the arrest warrant had been issued on April 17, 2024 “and today, my noble lord granted it.

“The court must satisfy itself that the defendant (Bello) will not be prejudiced in fairness if the warrant of arrest continues to hang on his neck, having been made before service of the charge contrary to Section 394 of ACJA.”

He argued that justice should be a three-way traffic: To the prosecution, defendant and public.

He said for Bello to appear in court, he must have the notion that he would get justice.

Adedipe also argued that the EFCC was an unconstitutional body because its establishment was not ratified by the 36 states of the federation.

He said that for the anti-graft agency to become a constitutional body, the 36 states of the federation must ratify the law establishing it as against the current position that the EFCC Establishment Act was unilaterally ratified by the Federal Government.

He therefore asked the judge to vacate the arrest warrant against the former governor.

But Pinheiro vehemently opposed the application.

A counsel to Bello has however said his client will appear in court on June 13, 2024 at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN) gave the assurance when he said his client had stayed away from the authorities because he feared for his life.

The counsel assured that the former kogi State governor would make himself available to clear his name after he got the assurance of the court that no harm would come to his client.

Mohammed Bello will appear in court and not in the office or custody of the EFCC.

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