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Abuja court orders ex-Gov Yahaya Bello’s arrest

The federal high court sitting in Abuja, on Friday has ordered that Yahaya Bello, the immediate past governor of Kogi State be arrested.

Justice Emeka Nwite said Bello is trying to end the criminal prosecution that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had brought against him.

The court, restated the order it made on April 17, which directed security agencies to arrest and produce him before it to answer to the 19-count charge that is pending against him.

According to the court, the former governor, by briefing lawyers to challenge its jurisdiction to try him, while he remained in hiding, showed that he “has no atom of respect and regard for the court.”

It held that Bello’s decision to file the application “is clearly showing his intention not to present himself for trial,” stressing that he ought to have made himself available upon becoming aware of the order of arrest that was issued against him.

“The law is settled that he who disobeyed an order of court and shown disrespect to the court cannot expect a favourable discretion of the court.

“The honourable thing the defendant would have done was to obey the order of court by making himself available.

“Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, mandates all persons and authority to give effect to orders of court.

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“He has wilfully disobeyed the order of this court. An order of court of competent jurisdiction, no matter how it was obtained, subsists until it is set aside.

“A party who refuses to obey an order of court after becoming aware of it, is in contempt of court.

“He is not entitled to be heard or granted a favourable discretion. The refusal of the defendant to make himself available is solely to truncate the arraignment and prevent the court from proceeding further in this case.

“Refusal of the defendant to make himself available in an attempt to truncate this court and make it practically impossible for the court to assume jurisdiction in this criminal trial.

“He ought to make himself available. He cannot sit in the comfort of his home to file applications before this court.

“The defendant has no atom of regard for the court. Clearly, the defendant is taking this court for granted.”

Justice Nwite held that Bello’s decision to treat the order of the court with levity, was previously condemned by the Supreme Court.

“I’m shocked to the bone marrow that a Senior counsel would stand before me to urge me to hear an application in view of the ruling delivered this morning

“In view of the forgoing analysis, I am of the view and I so hold, that no application can be moved or heard unless the defendant is present before the court to take his plea,” the trial judge held.

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The precaution counsel Dr Kemi Pinheiro SAN had argued that no accused can have right of audience until such has surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the court.

Bello, who governed Kogi state for eight years, is facing a charge bordering on his alleged complicity in money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of about N80.2billion.

Theresa Arike
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