Court Rejects Yahaya Bello’s Request to Transfer Fraud Trial to Kogi.

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The chief Judge of the Federal High Court, John Tsoho, has rejected a request by a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, to transfer his fraud case from Abuja to the Kogi division of the court. Justice Tsoho, through his Special Assistant, Joshua Ibrahim Aji, sided with counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who argued among others, that since the alleged offences were committed partly in Kogi and Abuja, the case could be filed in either state.

In the letter dated July 2, 2024, the Justice’ special assistant wrote “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 or (2009) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1127) C.A. 94 and other judicial authorities relied upon by the Defendant.

“The Prosecution has shown with documentary evidence that two criminal charges in the same scheme of alleged fraud leading to the charge against the Defendant, were earlier filed and are being tried in the Federal High Court, Abuja in Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/550/22 F. R. N. v. 1. Ali Bello, 2. Dauda Suleiman and F. R. N. v. 1. Ali Bello, 2. Abba Daudu, 3. Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege, 4. Iyadi Sadat. In both charges a formal application was made for their transfer to Lokoja, but the Court in a considered ruling refused the application. The ruling has not been set aside and cannot be reversed by administrative fiat.

“There is documentary evidence of a pending appeal in Yahaya Adoza Bello v. F. R. N. 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.

“Please, accept the esteemed regards of His Lordship, the Honourable, The Chief Judge,” Aji wrote.

Yahaya Bello is facing multiple allegations of fraud to the tune of ₦80.2 Billion.

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