✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Bello’s absence stalls trial as EFCC declares ex-gov wanted

The absence of former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello has forced the adjournment of his planned arraignment on Thursday on money laundering charges. Justice…

The absence of former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello has forced the adjournment of his planned arraignment on Thursday on money laundering charges.

Justice Emeka Nwite, who had earlier issued a bench warrant for Bello’s arrest and arraignment on Wednesday, subsequently adjourned the matter to April 23 for the hearing of an EFCC application seeking substituted service of the charges.

Bello’s arrest saga took a new turn on Wednesday when EFCC operatives laid siege on his Abuja residence but failed to apprehend him as the anti-graft agency claimed the incumbent governor of the state, Usman Ododo sneaked him out in an official car.

This was as two courts, a Kogi State High Court in Lokoja and a Federal High Court in Abuja issued separate orders for and against Bello’s arrest.

EFCC threatens to call in military

Explaining the situation, EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) said the pending charges could not be effected on Bello because he was sneaked away by Governor Ododo.

He said the anti-graft agency could invite the military if need be to produce Bello because while Ododo is the incumbent governor, Bello has lost his executive immunity being out of office and must be brought to court under Section 12 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

However, counsel to Bello, Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN) said his client did not breach any court order as there was a pending order by a high court in Kogi State, which restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting and detaining him.

Muhammed, who also refused service of the charges on behalf of Bello, further submitted that Justice Nwite lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case on account of the pendency of the case at the appellate court.

The EFCC had in March filed an amended 17-count charge against Bello, his nephew Ali Bello and one Dauda Suleman before a Federal High Court in Abuja on alleged diversion of funds shortly before he assumed office in September 2015.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants used a bureau de change operator known as Rabiu Misa Tafada to conceal some of the transactions.

   EFCC declares Yahaya Bello wanted

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared former Governor Bello wanted for offences relating to economic and financial crimes.

This was contained in a notice posted on the commission’s official social media platforms on Thursday.

“Former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, is wanted by the EFCC for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.2 bn.

“Anybody with information as to his whereabouts should report immediately to the commission or the nearest police station,” the notice read.

Daily Trust had reported how Bello, who was being trailed by the EFCC over alleged N84bn fraud, was ‘smuggled’ out of his residence located at No 9, Benghazi Street in Wuse Zone 4, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja by his successor.

The EFCC, through its spokesman, Dele Oyewale, had on Wednesday said that it would no longer tolerate obstruction of its operations, stressing that it is a criminal offence to obstruct officers of the commission from carrying out their lawful duties.

The commission, while addressing a Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday through its team of lawyers led by Kemi Pinheiro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, explained that the operatives would execute the arrest warrant against Bello, even “If it has to be done by the use of force.

“We have to arraign him in court even if we have to use the military. Immunity is only attached to a person and not the building. The law allows us to break down walls to arrest an evading defendant. Section 284 says all persons are to obey the service of charge,” the senior lawyer said.

It was gathered that the anti-graft agency is making frantic efforts to get the audience of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa, on the development about the embattled former governor.

In the meantime, anti-corruption civil society organisations yesterday advised the EFCC not to desecrate the courts in the course of carrying out its constitutional role of fighting corruption.

The CSOs and human rights crusaders cautioned the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies against trampling on the rights of supposed suspects of corruption in order to avoid breaking a law to enforce another law.

The activists, who spoke at an emergency press briefing on Thursday, noted specifically that the recent public face-off between the EFCC and the former governor in Abuja, was “both unnecessary and unfortunate.”

 The Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Comrade Debo Adeniran, who addressed the press, suggested that the rush by the EFCC to make an arrest, when the Court of Appeal hearing on its application to vacate the restraining order was just in a few days, might give credence to allegations of political persecution.

Gbenga Soloki of the Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence, who also spoke, said civil societies in Nigeria would protest against any attempt to use the military to arrest an individual who had not been accused of treason.

  Stop obstructing the law – AGF

Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) has warned against obstructing the law.

In a statement on Thursday, Fagbemi said the EFCC has the statutory duty to invite any person of interest to interact with them in the course of their investigation into any matter regardless of status.

 “A situation where public officials who are themselves subject of protection by law enforcement agents will set up a stratagem of obstruction to the civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty is to say the least, insufferably disquieting,” he said.

Fagbemi therefore encouraged anyone who has been invited by the EFCC or any other agency to immediately toe the path of decency and civility by honouring such invitation instead of embarking on a temporising self-help and escapism that can only put our country in bad light before the rest of the world.


Join Daily Trust WhatsApp Community For Quick Access To News and Happenings Around You.

Nigerians in Nigeria and those in diaspora can now be paid in US Dollars. Premium domains can earn you as much as $17,000 (₦27 million).

Click here to start earning.