Yahaya Bello: Court Shifts Arraignment to June 27 Following Lead Prosecution Counsel’s Absence

  • Defence team says EFCC lead lawyer requested for new date

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, adjourned the arraignment of former Kogi Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to June 27.

The adjournment was sequel to the absence of the lead lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.

Following assurance that the defendant would be in court to take his plea, the court had last month adjourned to June 13, for arraignment.

However, when the matter was called one of the senior lawyers in the former governor’s team, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, informed the court that Pinhero, had earlier informed the defence team that Thursday’s ‘s proceedings would not be convenient.

Adedipe, who was in court for another matter, however expressed surprise to see another EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN in court after an agreement between the two parties that junior lawyers would be sent to pick a new date, at the instance of the EFCC lead counsel, Kemi Pinhero. 

He said it seemed there was misalignment between the anti-graft’s lead counsel, Pinhero and Oyedepo.

He said Pinhero approached the defence lead lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed SAN, in his office, through a junior lawyer who also appeared in court alongside Oyedepo, that today’s hearing would not be convenient for them to proceed.   

He said: “And as senior counsel, it was best agreed by way of convenient for another date.

“It was agreed administratively that junior lawyers be sent to court today to formally take a date as agreed by parties for June 27.

“I personally also approached the registry to confirm this information and it was confirmed to me. That was why I told the court that my appearance today is for another matter.

“What the prosecution has done this morning is an ambush to bring the defendant once again to the realms of social media.”

He insisted that it was at Pinhero’s behest that the matter be adjourned until June 27 for arraignment.

Adedipe further observed that but for the decision of the EFCC to seek for an adjournment the ex-governor was ready to appear in court today.

“Under 266 of ACJA, there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

 “We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant’s coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe said. 

Responding, Oyedepo disagreed with Adedipe.

He said he was not aware of any meeting that happened between their lead counsel and the defence.

However, a senior lawyer, Simon Lough, SAN, who came for another matter, stood up to intervene.

He said it was unnecessary for senior counsels to be attacking each other in court on a simple matter.

He said since Adedipe had explained why the defendant was not in court, a new date should be agreed on.

Lough said at the new date, the court could inquire from the prosecution lead counsel on what transpired.

He advised the lawyers to stop the argument in order not to waste the time of the court on other matters.

Justice Nwite thereafter adjourned the case to June 27 on agreement of counsel after an undertaking that the defendant would appear on the next adjourned day.

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