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Ex-Gov Yahaya seeks to annul arrest warrant, EFCC pushes for arraignment

The ex-governor stated that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the order in the first instance.

Former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello [KGSG]

Bello, through his lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, told Justice Emeka Nwite that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the order in the first instance.

Mohammed told Justice Nwite when the matter was called for the ex-governor to be arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 19-count money laundering charge.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Nwite had, on Wednesday, ordered that EFCC should be issued a warrant for the arrest of Bello.

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The judge, who granted the order, directed that Bello should be brought to court today to take his plea in the charge preferred against him. Mohammed informed the court that a preliminary objection had already been filed before the court to the effect.

The lawyer, who urged the court to vacate the arrest warrant order, said a High Court of Kogi had on February 9 restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting, detaining or prosecuting Bello.

He said the order was challenged by the EFCC at the Court of Appeal and the matter was already fixed for hearing. Mohammed said that the arrest warrant the commission surreptitiously got from the court was an attempt to bring the court on a collision course with the Appeal Court.

He said the issue of jurisdiction was a threshold that the court must address first. However, EFCC’s lawyer, Kehinde Pinhero, SAN, disagreed with Mohammed’s submission. He said the matter was fixed for Bello’s arraignment and Mohammed, having announced an appearance for the ex-governor, could be served in the open court for the matter to proceed.

He said the arrest warrant was to ensure that Bello was produced in court to stand his trial since all efforts to effect the service on him had proved abortive. The hearing is still ongoing at the time of filing the report.

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