Federal High Court Admits Legal Papers In Case Against Yahaya Bello

by Ohepo Ohepo

In a significant development in the ongoing legal proceedings against former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, the Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that charges against the defendant can be served through his counsel. This decision came during a session on April 23, 2024, where both parties were absent, marking a pivotal moment in the case involving alleged corruption and abuse of office.

The case, presided over by the Federal High Court, involved a debate on the appropriate method of serving charges, with the court emphasizing the importance of ensuring fair hearing through proper service as stipulated by law. Citing Sections 379(3), 328(4), and 382(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), the court highlighted that while personal service is usually required, circumstances such as the unconditional appearance of the defendant’s counsel allowed for an alternative method.

The court thus granted the application by the prosecution to serve the charge and proof of evidence on Yahaya Bello’s counsel, who acknowledged the service in open court. This decision enables the prosecution to proceed with the case, even though Bello himself has refrained from appearing in court.

In response, Bello’s legal team, led by Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, and Adeola Adedipe, SAN, argued that the warrant of arrest issued against their client was premature and should be considered inchoate until actual arraignment could occur. This point was contested by the prosecution team, which insisted that the failure of Bello to appear should not prevent the court from proceeding with necessary legal actions.

A minor procedural disagreement arose when the prosecution attempted to submit an endorsement of service in court without an accompanying affidavit, leading to an objection from the defense. The prosecution, represented by Dr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, along with a robust team, countered by promising to file an affidavit of service subsequently.

Moreover, the prosecution proposed a conditional offer to the defense, suggesting that if they ensured Bello’s presence at the next scheduled hearing, the outstanding order and related applications could be withdrawn. This offer aims to expedite proceedings and focus on the substantive issues at hand.

The court has adjourned the case until May 10, when it will rule on whether its jurisdiction can only be effectively initiated upon the defendant’s arraignment.

This case continues to attract attention due to its implications for governance and legal accountability in Nigeria, highlighting the ongoing efforts by judicial authorities to address high-profile corruption cases effectively.

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