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Thursday, June 13, 2024

EFCC insists attempt to arrest Yahaya Bello complies with court order

EFCC insists attempt to arrest Yahaya Bello complies with court order

Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, has insisted that the agency has not violated the rule of law in its attempt to arrest former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello.

Olukoyede disclosed this to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.

Bello had lamented that the EFCC was harassing him and called for an end to what he termed intimidation.

READ ALSO: Yahaya Bello and a complicit Judiciary, by Chidi Odinkalu

The ex-governor also alleged that EFCC was violating a court order that stopped his arrest. He demanded that the commission follow due process.

Bello therefore called on the EFCC to suspend the execution of the arrest warrant issued against him on April 17 by a Federal High Court in Abuja, saying that he would come to court on his own.

‘EFCC didn’t violate rule of law’

Olukoyede said the commission has not violated any law to bring Bello to trial.

He said it was the Kogi State High Court which directed the commission to proceed to the Federal High Court where it secured the order to arrest him

‘What Kogi State High Court said’

Olukoyede said “I want to give you the correct position in respect of Yahaya Bello’s case. We have put out a publication. I hope most of you have seen it. There is no law that the EFCC has violated. How I wish our opinion leaders can just take time to understand what we are doing.

READ ALSO: EFCC declares Yahaya Bello wanted

“Right here with me, I have a copy of the judgment of the Kogi State High Court. The man approached the High Court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights. In fact, rather than disobeying the law, we have obeyed it.

“And in concluding his judgment, Hon. Justice Isah Jamil Abdullahi, a man I respect so much and he was so smart. I would read to you the last two, three paragraphs of his judgment.

“He said: “I am under no illusion that under the laws of this country and having regard to the provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004, the Commission  cannot be restrained from carrying out criminal investigation in respect of any citizen of this country. However, the exercise of these powers is subject to the overriding provisions of the constitution and any subsisting order of court.”

“He went further to say that the applicant “having established (that is Yahaya Bello), infringement or threatened infringement of his rights by the respondent, is now entitled to benefit from the long-standing principle (central to the cardinal principles of administration of justice) that where injury is established, there must always be a remedy.

“The applicant no doubt is entitled to the grant of some protective reliefs. While I am inclined to grant the order sought by the applicant in this application, I can only grant them subject to what is permissible under our laws. It has been repeatedly made and it is clear in this judgment that the respondent cannot be restrained, that is EFCC, from exercising its statutory mandate to investigate and prosecute persons or authorities reasonably suspected to having committed financial crimes as obligated under its establishment Act. “Accordingly, I will make no such order. And if I may add, now looking at the order sought by the applicant I am inclined to grant them subject to some alterations which in my view would be the justice of this case in the following terms:

“An order is hereby granted upholding the fundamental rights of the applicant (that is Yahaya Bello) to liberty and freedom of movement and fair hearing by restraining the respondent, that is EFCC, by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain or in any manner whatsoever arresting, detaining or persecuting the applicant on the basis of criminal charges now pending before the Federal High Court.

“Now, without prejudice to the powers of the said Federal High Court, to make order as it may deem just in the determination of the rights of the applicant and the respondent as it may be submitted to her and determination, an order is hereby granted directing the respondent (EFCC) to bring before the same Federal High Court or any such appropriate Court such criminal charge, allegation or complaint whereof the applicant is reasonably believed by the respondent to have committed any offence subject to its jurisdiction provided by the respondent

READ ALSO: Nigerian govt tells Yahaya Bello to surrender to EFCC

“It was the Kogi State High Court that directed the EFCC to go and file a charge at the Federal High Court as against what is being peddled out there.”

Invitations rebuffed?

Olukoyede explained how Bello rebuffed EFCC’s invitations , saying the EFCC bent backwards to ask Bello to come for interaction with the commission’s operatives.

He said the ex-governor instead asked the EFCC’s team to come to his village to interrogate him.

Olukoyede said: “I called Yahaya Bello, as a serving governor, to come to my office to clear himself. I shouldn’t have done that. But he said because a certain senator has planted over 100 journalists in my office, he would not come.

“I told him that he would be allowed to use my private gate to give him a cover, but he said my men should come to his village to interrogate him.

Other ex-governors arraigned

“We have not violated any law while trying to arrest the former governor from his residence. Rather, we have obeyed the law. I inherited the case and I didn’t create it. Why has he not submitted himself to the law? I have arraigned two past governors who have been granted bail now — Willie Obiano and Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“We would have gone after him since January, but we waited for the court order. As early as 7 am, my men were there. Over 50 of them. They mounted surveillance. We met over 30 armed policemen there. We would have exchanged fire and there would have been casualties, but we exercised restraint. My men were about to move in when the governor of Kogi drove in and they later changed the narrative.

“If I can do Obiano, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Chief Olu Agunloye, my kinsman, why not Yahaya Bello?

“If EFCC fails, all of us have failed. It should be our responsibility that we fulfill this mandate so that posterity will speak for all of us. Let us all be objective. Why can’t I drill Yahaya Bello if I could have arrested Obiano, among others, as long as we have evidence?”

Olukoyede urged Nigerians to support EFCC in its anti-corruption drive.

Advanced school fees?

The EFCC chairman insisted that Bello should account for over $720,000 school fees he paid in advance.

He stressed: “A sitting governor, because he knew he was going, he moved money directly from the government’s account to a bureau de change to pay his children’s school fees in advance, $720,000, in anticipation that he was going to leave Government House.

“It is not everybody that can be influenced by money. I will definitely pursue this case. People are seeing a suspect as a saint that we are harassing. There is nothing personal there.

“The question is why is he not submitting himself to the law? Do they kill people there? Why is he not coming out? That’s my take on Yahaya Bello.”

Olukoyede clarified that his disclosures at the briefing were not prejudicial.

He added: “Some of the things I have given you here today are things that even you yourself would have even discovered if some of us have done some further work. There is nothing I said today that is not in our processes in court.

“If you had just taken the pain to go to court and applied for the CTC of our processes they will give you. The money that was used to pay school fees is there, they are all there. You also agree with me that my media people they do what we call informatics. For example, if you look at Godwin Emefiele’s case, how much was stolen? We spelt it out. Some of us we don’t even read some of these things in detail.

“We are rushing to go and treat statements. We must read the details. Some of us are also swayed by the comments some people make about our work. You just pick it on social media whether correct or not correct.

Faruk Khalil
Faruk Khalilhttps://nigeriansketch.com/
Khalil Faruk (Deputy Editor-in-Chief), has a Bachelors and Master's degree in Political Science and has worked as a reporter, features editor and Deputy Editor-in-Chief respectively in a leading Nigerian daily. He has undergone trainings in journalism, photo journalism and online journalism within and outside Nigeria.

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