Appeal Court hears EFCC appeal against Yahaya Bello’s arrest

The battle by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to remove all legal hindrances in its efforts to arrest and bring for trial the immediate past governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, will begin today, at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, as the anti-graft agency has approached the court to set aside the interim injunction barring it from arresting the former governor.

The former governor, who is facing a 19-count charge of alleged complicity in money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of about N80.2 billion, had relied on the order he secured from a High Court, in Kogi State, to spurn invitations from the anti-graft agency.

His failure to appear before the Federal High Court in Abuja last Thursday for his planned arraignment, led trial Justice Emeka Nwite to adjourn the case till Tuesday.

Even though Bello was absent to take his plea, however, his team of lawyers, led by Mr. Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, notified the court of the pendency of the matter before the appellate court.

Mohammed, SAN, contended that it was wrong for the EFCC to apply for an arrest warrant against the erstwhile governor, when the appellate court was already seized of the facts of the case.

He told the court that the ex-governor had on February 9, secured an order from a High Court in Kogi State, restraining the EFCC from inviting, arresting or prosecuting him over the subject matter of the charge against him.

However, EFCC’s legal team headed by Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, urged the court to proceed with the trial, even as it accused the ex-governor of deliberately attempting to frustrate the case against him.

In the notice of appeal it lodged on April 11 to set aside the interim restraining order, the anti-graft agency maintained that the court in Kogi State lacked the jurisdiction to assist Bello to escape trial.

According to EFCC, “Whatever orders made when the court lacks jurisdiction is a null and void orders. “We, therefore, most respectfully urge this court to allow this appeal and to set aside the interim orders made by the trial Court on 9th February 2024 in the interest of justice.”

Besides, EFCC’s lawyer, Pinhero, SAN, argued that the interim restraining order had elapsed since Justice Isa Abdullahi of the Kogi State High Court had also delivered judgement in the substantive fundamental right enforcement suit the ex-governor filed to prevent his arrest and prosecution.

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