Confusion in court as Kogi officials, Bello deny ₦100bn fraud charges

EFCC alleged that the suspects diverted ₦100bn belonging to the state govt in months before ex-Governor Yahaya Bello assumed office.


There was confusion on Thursday at a Federal High Court, Abuja, following amended charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), against Alli Bello, Daudu Suleiman, and the immediate-past Governor of Kogi.


In the amended charge filed before Justice James Omotosho, the EFCC alleged that the suspects diverted about ₦100 billion belonging to the state government in September 2015, months before ex-Governor Yahaya Bello assumed office.


Ex-Governor Bello was not a defendant in the original suit, and was not in court. When the matter was called for the defendants to be re-arraigned, counsel for the former governor, A.M. Aliyu, SAN, objected to reading of the amended charges to his client.


His ground of objection was that the anti-graft agency had failed woefully to comply with Section 218 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015. The senior lawyer submitted that a copy of the amended charges was not served on them as required by the provisions of ACJA.


But EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, asked the court to reject the arguments of the defendant, adding that the court had, on its own, endorsed the amendment. Justice Omotoso, in a short ruling, recalled that he had granted accelerated hearing in the matter and had also ordered that all forms of objections must be kept in abeyance till address stage.


The judge then directed the court registrar to read the amended charges. After the 17-count charge was read to the defendants, Ali Bello, who is the current Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor, and his co-defendant, Dauda Suleman, denied the fraud allegations in the amended charges brought against them at the fresh arraignment.


They pleaded not guilty to all the counts. In the first count, former Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello, Alli Bello and Dauda Suleman were accused of conspiring with each other in September 2015 to convert ₦80,246,470, 089 to their personal use.


They were alleged to have run foul of Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 because they ought to have reasonably known that the money was a product of fraud and criminal breach of public trust.


In other charges, Alli Bello and Dauda Suleman were alleged to have concealed several millions of naira with one Rabiu Musa Tafada, a Bureau De Change operator trading under Global Venture in Abuja.


Aliyu, who appeared for Alli Bello, at this point, applied that one of the EFCC witnesses, Edward Fanada, be recalled for fresh cross-examination in view of the contents of the amended charges. The request was granted by Justice Omotoso due to no opposition from the EFCC lawyer.


Meanwhile, the judge admitted Alli Bello and Dauda Suleman to a bail condition earlier granted in the previous charges. He adjourned the matter until March 20 and March 21 for trial continuation.



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