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EFCC gets court order to arrest Yahaya Bello

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) permission to arrest the former governor of Kogi state, Mr Yahaya Bello ahead of his arraignment on Thursday, April 18.

The attempt to arrest the ex-governor led to the laying of siege at his Abuja residence earlier today.

Operatives of the anti-graft agency barricaded the entrance to the residence of the former governor in Wuse zone 4 of the nation’s capital.

Also, while the siege on Bello’s residence was ongoing, two conflicting court rulings emerged in respect to the attempt to take the former governor into custody.

One of the rulings, which came from a Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining or prosecuting Bello.

Justice I.A Jamil, who gave the order in a two-hour ruling on Wednesday, said that infringing on the fundamental human rights of the former Kogi is null and void except as authorised by the Court.

“By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant except as authorised by the Court.

“This is a definite order following the earlier interim injunction given,” he said.

In a twist of event, the EFCC obtained permission from a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to arrest Mr Bello.

Justice Emeka Nwite granted the warrant in the afternoon at the instance of the EFCC.

Recall that the EFCC had charged Yahaya Bello with financial fraud to the tune of N84 billion.

The commission in an amended charge, accused Bello of diverting N80 billion of state funds in September 2015, four months before he assumed office.

The state government faulted the charge describing it as “ridiculous” and “laughable”, argued that it is impossible, as the former governor was not yet in a position to access or misappropriate state funds at said time.

The state government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, had on February 7, 2024, accused the EFCC of being “infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of ‘Mr. President’ to defeat corruption in Nigeria.”

EFCC, which joined Bello’s nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Sulaiman and Abdulsalam Hudu as co-accused, had said it is prosecuting them on an amended 17-count charge of money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of fund to tune of N84, 062,406,089.88.

The anti-graft agency had claimed in the amended charge that former governor Bello is still at large.

Count one of the charges reads, “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, Yahaya Adoza Bello (still at large) and Abdulsalam Hudu (still at large), sometime in September, 2015 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N80,246,470,089.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Eighty-nine Naira, Eighty-eight Kobo), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(b) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended,” the EFCC said.

“While ex-Governor Yahaya Bello and Hudu are still at large, Ali Bello and Suleiman, first and second defendants respectively, who were present in court “pleaded not guilty” to all the charges when they were read to them.

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