The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday adjourned hearing on a bail application filed by Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello’s nephew, Ali Bello, in a N3 billion money laundering trial.
The judge, Obiora Egwuatu, adjourned the case until Tuesday, 14 February, due to a mix-up in the filings by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Last Friday, the anti-graft agency filed a counter-affidavit to Mr Bello’s bail request, but the judge had yet to get the filing as of Monday when the matter came up.
At Monday’s proceedings, Ahmed Raji, the defence lawyer, acknowledged receipt of the prosecution’s objection to his client’s bail request.
Mr Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), sought a speedy hearing of the bail application, prompting the judge to adjourn the suit until Tuesday.
The prosecuting lawyer, Kabiru Hussain, said the counter-affidavit was mistakenly taken to a different court instead of Mr Egwuatu’s.
Mr Bello and his co-defendants, who have been remanded since last Wednesday (8 February), would have to stay at least one day longer in detention until their bail application would be heard and possibly granted on Tuesday.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 8 February, arraigned Mr Bello alongside Abba Adauda, Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege and Iyada Sadat on money laundering charges. The offences, according to the anti-graft agency, involved alleged misappropriation of over N3 billion.
Mr Bello’s wife, Rashida Bello, who is allegedly involved in the alleged crimes, is said to be on the run.
The defendants that were present in court last Wednesday pleaded not guilty.
Subsequently, the judge remanded them in prison.
The prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had prayed the court to give a date for the trial of the defendants.
But Ahmed Raji, also SAN, urged the court to grant his clients bail pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
In count one of the charges, the EFFC said the defendants and Mrs Bello (now at large) in Abuja sometime in June 2020 “procured E- Traders International Limited to retain the aggregate sum of N3,081,804,654.00 (Three Billion, Eighty-One Million, Eight Hundred and Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty Four Naira) which…forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation.”
The prosecution said the alleged offence is contrary to sections 18(a), 15(20)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
In count three, the anti-graft agency accused the defendants and the Kogi governor’s wife of using a company, E-Traders International Limited, “to transfer the aggregate sum of $570,330 (Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty United States Dollars) to account number no; 426-6644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America.”
It added that the funds “forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to with: criminal misappropriation,” which violates “section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
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