Judge blasts Yahya Bello, lawyer for disobedience of court

Ogunsakin Mustapha
6 Min Read
Mr Yahya Bello, former Governor, Kogi State

Adjourns till June 13 for arraignment

A Federal High Court judge, Justice Emeka Nwite on Friday blasted the former governor of Kogi State, Mr Yahya Bello for hiding and disobedience of the court’s order saying he(former governor) has no respect for the rule of law, and the justice system of the country. 

The judge also expressed his shock and disgust at Bello’s lawyer, Mr Abdulwahab Mohammed SAN standing before the court and urging the court to hear an application by a person who has disobeyed the order of court.

Justice Nwite of Federal High Court in Abuja insisted that the court will not hear any application from Bello until he makes himself available for his arraignment.

The former governor has been in hiding since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, brought criminal charges against him, refusing to appear in court to take his plea.

Justice Nwite agreed with the submissions EFCC’s counsel Dr Kemi Pinheiro SAN and 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 iota 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.

Justice Nwite said: “The law is settled that he who disobeyed an order of court and shown disrespect to the court cannot expect a favorable discretion of the court.

The honorable 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. He (Bello) 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 favorable 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 foregoing analysis, I am of the view and I 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.

Pinheiro had argued that no accused can have right of audience until such has surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the court.

However his lawyer, Mr Mohammed assured the court that Bello will submit himself for arraignment on June 13, 2024.

Mohammed gave the undertaking to the court after his application for suspension of arraignment was rejected.

The senior lawyer claimed that the former governor was not afraid of arraignment but safety of his life in the hands of EFCC. 

He said that the life of his client has been under consistent threats in Abuja, hence, his decision to go underground for safety. “All my client needs is just an assurance for the safety of his life which has been under threat for some time in Abuja,” he said. He therefore requested for four weeks to bring his client to court.

There was no opposition from Dr Pinheiro, Justice Nwite adjourned till June 13 for Bello to come to court and take his plea.

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

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