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Even If Arrest Warrant Was Illegally Obtained, Yahaya Bello Should Appear In Court, Judge Rules

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

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that even if the arrest warrant was illegally obtained, the defendant (Bello) should have still shown up in court.

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

The judge had on, April 17, issued an arrest warrant to EFCC for Bello’s arrest.

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

But Bello’s counsel, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, on April 23, prayed the court to set aside the arrest warrant against their client.

He 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 Pinheiro’s submission that the ex-governor must be in court first before any application could be entertained being a criminal case, he said the anti-graft agency also made an application on April 18 after the warrant arrest was issued to 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 him, the complainant made an application for substituted service on 18th day of April after the arrest warrant had been issued on 17th day of April 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,” Adeola argued.

He argued that justice should be a three-way traffic; that is, justice to the prosecution, the defendant and the 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 EFCC 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.

Counsel to Bello has however said his client will appear in court on 13th of June at the Federal High Court, in Abuja.

Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN gave the assurance while saying that 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.

The counsel also clarified that Bello will appear in court and not in EFCC custody.

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