Court adjourns Yahaya Bello’s arraignment until June 27

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, adjourned the arraignment of former Kogi Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, until June 27.

Justice Emeka Nwite, SAN, fixed the date after counsel for the ex-governor, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, informed the court that the EFCC’s lead counsel, Kemi Pinhero, SAN, earlier informed the defence team that Thursday’s proceeding would not be convenient.

When the matter was called, Adedipe, who was in court for another matter, expressed surprise that Oyedepo was actually 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, Mr Pinhero.

He said it seemed there was a 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 Pehinro’s behest that the matter be adjourned until June 27 for arraignment.

He said that for the decision of the EFCC to seek an adjournment to a future date for his arraignment, 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 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, who came for another matter, stood up to intervene.

He said it was unnecessary for senior counsel 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. (NAN).



Tribune Online