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Court refuses to order arrest of former PDP Chairman

A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest and detain a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Haliru Bello.

Mr Bello is facing trial on alleged diversion of funds from the office of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

He was charged alongside his son, Bello Mohammed, and their company, Bam Project and Properties Ltd, on a four-count charge of alleged embezzlement of N300 million from Mr Dasuki’s former office.

Following an application by the defence, the court allowed Mr Bello to go for medication abroad in May.

According to the court directive, Mr Bello was expected to have returned 30 days from the date he was permitted to go for treatment abroad.

The case had been adjourned till Wednesday, following the annual vacation of judges in July.

At the opening of session on Wednesday, however, Mr Bello was not in court. A counsel for the prosecution, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, asked the court to issue a bench warrant for Mr Bello’s arrest and accused him of violating the court directives.

The defence lawyer, Solomon Umor, however asked the court to refuse the application for a bench warrant on the grounds that his client has never refused to attend the trial.

In a short ruling the judge, Ahmed Mohammed, agreed that Mr Bello has not failed in the past to attend hearing, but noted that the defendant is expected in court during the next adjourned date.

“Although the third defendant counsel should have asked for leave of court, nonetheless the medical report has shown why he’s not in court because of his surgical operation.

“If we should be absent at the next date: the court will grant the application for bench warrant and proceed with the matter in his absence,” Mr Mohammed said.

The court adjourned the matter to December 13 for continuation of trial.

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