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Ex-Kogi Gov. Yahaya Bello Speaks From Hiding  

Former Governor of Kogi, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, on Tuesday, told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stop harassing him and respect the rule of law

Bello gave the advice in a statement made available in Abuja by his media office signed by an officer, Michael Ohiare, in reaction to EFCC’s rebuttal on alleged disobedience to court order in the case filed against him.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the anti-graft agency had, in a statement titled: “Re: Yahaya Bello: EFCC Never Disobeyed Court Order,” reacted to the allegation.

But reacting, Ohiare said that contrary to the commission’s claims, “official records and court documents relating to their hounding of Alhaji Yahaya Bello establish a clear timeline of events.”

He added that these documents were endorsed with dates and times of filing and payments, “which are endorsed on court processes – all of which testify to the true sequence of events.”

He said: “Our attention has been drawn to a publication/press statement with the above title, issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday, 22nd April, 2024, and signed by Wilson Uwujaren, its Acting Director of Public Affairs.

“In the said statement, which the commission carefully circulated widely as usual, Mr. Uwujaren, who we have to believe is not a lawyer, continues the EFCC’s ongoing unconscionable lies against the former Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, CON, by labelling him as a fugitive from justice in order to disingenuously justify their established and willful pattern of defying lawful court orders.”

Giving details of how the statement of the anti-corruption commission was allegedly untrue, Ohiare said in the first instance, EFCC had never invited the ex-governor formally.

“The EFCC claims to have invited Alhaji Yahaya Bello immediately after his tenure ended on January 27th, 2024.

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“We challenge the EFCC to produce a copy of this invitation, including the delivery date and the recipient’s name/endorsement. We are confident they cannot provide this simple evidence,” he said.

On alleged preemptive charge:, he said prior to any alleged invitation, the EFCC amended Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/550/22 on Feb. 5, 2023, to accuse Bello of conspiring to convert over N80 billion of Kogi’s funds in September 2015.

According to him, this amendment listed Yahaya Bello as “still at large,” demonstrating a clear intention to arrest him.

On alleged impossible accusations, he said “the alleged timelines provided by the EFCC for its phantasmagorical allegations of crime against Yahaya Bello predates his Inauguration as Governor of Kogi State on January 27th, 2016.”

Besides, he said the second charge even attempted to correct the initial blunder and said the crime was committed in February 2016, less than a month after Bello became governor.

But Ohiare said the total Kogi budget in 2016 was significantly less than the sum alleged in the charges.

He said to protect his reputation and fundamental rights, the former governor filed fundamental rights enforcement action in Suit No. HCL/68M/2024 with the High Court of Justice, Kogi on Feb. 8.

He said court records, even from the EFCC, all substantiated this.

“The High Court granted an order restraining the EFCC from inviting, arresting, or prosecuting Alhaji Yahaya Bello pending the determination of the Originating Motion.

“This order was served on the EFCC on February 12th, 2024.

“Despite the order, the EFCC, represented by Senior Advocates Rotimi Oyedepo and J.S Okutepa, filed Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024 against Yahaya Bello on March 6th, 2024, in violation of the order.

“The EFCC’s ex-parte warrant is another false narrative,” he alleged.

Ohiare said the commission falsely implied that the EFCC sought a warrant of arrest only after the Kogi High Court’s ruling on April 17.

“This ruling was at about 2pm. Records will show that the motion was filed at 8:24 am on April 17th, prior to the ruling.

“And Nigerians would testify to the fact that, at that time, EFCC agents had already laid siege on his residence, attempting his arrest. These are clear occurrences that cannot be denied.

“The EFCC failed to present the warrant at Yahaya Bello’s residence.

“The warrant itself is invalid, being obtained in defiance of a court order and based on misleading statements, as Alhaji Yahaya Bello is a defendant and not a fleeing suspect or a suspect, having been charged.

“The judgment of the High Court of Justice, Kogi State, on April 17th, 2024, highlights the EFCC’s abuse of its statutory duties.

” We urge the public to denounce these unlawful transgressions until the EFCC undertakes a comprehensive reform of its practices

“In conclusion, it is clear that the EFCC is engaged in a campaign of intimidation and harassment.

“Alhaji Yahaya Bello is not afraid of the EFCC. His demand is that the rule of law be respected,” he said.(NAN)

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