FCT Court Declines Yahaya Bello’s Plea To Transfer N80bn Fraud Case To Kogi

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

The CJ, in a letter dated July 2 and signed by his Special Assistant, Joshua Aji, said that he agreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that Bello should be tried in Abuja and not Lokoja.

Justice Tsoho rejected Bello’s application dated June 10, praying that his trial for alleged N80.2bn fraud should be transferred to Kogi.

Recall that Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), had on June 27 told the trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, that his client had applied to have his case transferred to Kogi.

Adedipe said Bello took the decision to seek the transfer of the matter after he was briefed about what transpired at the June 13 proceedings in court.

In a judgment on Monday, the court directed that the request by Bello, for the transfer of the alleged money laundering case instituted against him, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to Kogi State, be presented in open court.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Bello’s lawyers, Abdul-Wahab Muhammed and Musa Yakubu, the chief judge drew the attention of the former governor’s counsels to a pending appeal in the case: Yahaya Adoza Bello VS FRN wherein the defendant had sought a consequential order remitting the case to the chief judge for reassignment.

The letter, signed by his special assistant, said as a result, it would be improper to take any step tantamount to pre-empting the outcome of the appeal.

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The letter reads: “There is documentary evidence of a pending appeal in the case Yahaya Adoza Bello VS FRN filed on 17/05/2024 wherein the defendant as appellant has sought a consequential order remitting the case to the chief judge for reassignment. It is not proper to take any step that will be tantamount to pre-empting the outcome of the appeal.

“The main issue raised is jurisdictional in nature and will be more appropriately decided by the court. The matter should therefore be presented in open court.”

The chief judge noted that the main offence alleged bordered on the conversion of Kogi state funds to purchase properties in Abuja, and that the filing of the charge could either be in Abuja or Lokoja.