TRIAL OF EX-GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO’S NEPHEW FOR LAUNDERING 10BILLION: JUDGE FOXES MARCH 10, DEMANDS DILIGENT PROSECUTION FROM EFCC

A Federal High Court in Abuja has shifted further trial in the charges against Ali Bello and Suleiman Daudu to March 14 with a warning to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to be diligent in the conduct of the trial.

The court, while granting an accelerated hearing, threatened to close the charges against the defendants if the prosecution failed to do due diligence.

Justice James Omotoso, who issued the warning on Friday, asked the anti-graft agency to always get all its witnesses and exhibits ready on adjourned dates to avoid delay.

He warned that he would not tolerate a lackadaisical attitude from any of the parties in the matter while shifting the resumption of trial to March 14, 15, 20, and 21.

Justice Omotoso also directed the defendants to keep further objections against the trial to the final address stage.

The judge, who made this observation while ruling in a motion on notice filed by Suleiman Daudu challenging the amended charges, however, refused to quash the 17-count amended charge, involving alleged money laundering.

The court also declined to transfer the trial of the two defendants to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, in line with the argument of the second defendant through his counsel, Mr Jimoh Nureni, SAN, that since the alleged offence was committed in Lokoja, the proper and appropriate venue for trial should be at the Federal High Court in Lokoja.

The judge noted that the Federal High Court in Nigeria is one and that the trial of any matter could be prosecuted in any of its divisions.

Ali Bello and Suleiman Daudu are standing trial on 10-count charges bordering on alleged N10 billion in money laundering.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and have since been admitted to bail by Justice Omotoso.

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