Chief Judge Orders Open Court Hearing for Yahaya Bello’s Transfer Request

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has mandated that the request by former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello to transfer his money laundering case to Kogi State be heard in open court. This directive was communicated in a letter addressed to Bello’s legal counsel, Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN) and Musa Yakubu (SAN), highlighting a pending appeal in the case.

The appeal, titled *Yahaya Adoza Bello vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria*, involves a request for a consequential order to remit the case to the Chief Judge for reassignment. The Chief Judge’s letter, signed by his Special Assistant Joshua Ibrahim-Aji, emphasized the impropriety of taking steps that might preempt the outcome of the appeal.

“There is documentary evidence of a pending appeal in the case *Yahaya Adoza Bello vs. FRN* filed on 17/05/2024 wherein the defendant as the 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,” the letter stated.

Justice Tsoho noted that the primary offense involves the alleged conversion of state funds for the purchase of property in Abuja, suggesting that the filing of the charge could be in either Abuja or Lokoja. He referenced two ongoing cases where similar requests for transfer were denied: *FHC/ABJ/CR/550/22 FRN vs. Ali Bello and another* and *FRN vs. Ali Bello and three others*.

Bello faces a 19-count charge of money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of public funds amounting to approximately ₦80.2 billion, as brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). At the last proceeding before Justice Emeka Nwite at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Bello’s counsel notified the court of the former governor’s request to be arraigned and tried in a Kogi High Court.

The Chief Judge’s office had addressed a letter to EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), seeking their opinion on the matter. The letter, dated June 14, 2024, and signed by the Special Assistant to the Chief Judge, required a response within six days of receipt.

“You will find attached the copy of a letter by counsel for the defendant on the above subject matter, dated 10th June 2024. I am directed by His Lordship, the Honourable, the Chief Judge, to forward the letter to you for your response within 6 (six) days of receipt,” the letter read in part.

The court’s decision to hear the transfer request in open court ensures transparency and adherence to judicial process, reflecting the complexity and high stakes involved in the case against the former governor.

Share this:

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *