Bello to EFCC on N80.2bn fraud: Vacate arrest warrant, I will show up in court 


Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has fixed the 10th of May, 2024 to rule in an application by former governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello, where he sought vacation of an arrest warrant issued against him in an alleged N80.2 billion money laundering charge.

At the proceedings Tuesday, Bello, through his lawyer, argued that the arrest warrant had become unnecessary since his lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, has accepted the service of the criminal charges on his behalf.

The former Kogi state governor is facing charges bordering on N80.2 billion money laundering currently being heard at the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja.

Though the charge was brought against him by the federal government, but Bello did not appear in court to take his plea.

His counsel, Adeola Adedipe, SAN, argued the application and prayed Justice Nwite to vacate the order earlier made for the arrest of his client.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had through his counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), made the promise at today’s proceedings that it will set aside the arrest warrant if he shows up in court.

But responding through his lawyer, Bello had said he would have loved to show up in court, but he is afraid of arrest.

Adedipe said his client would have loved to show up in court, but he is afraid “of the order of arrest hanging over his head.”

Adedipe said: “The court must satisfy itself that the defendant will not be prejudiced in fairness if the warrant of arrest continues to hang on his neck, having been made before service of the charge, contrary to Section 394 of the ACJA.”

But the EFCC counsel assured that it could be set aside.

“As his prosecution, I will personally apply that the arrest warrant be set aside if he comes to court on the next adjourned date.

“If he gives an undertaking that his client will be in court on the next date, I can assure him that the arrest warrant will not be executed,” he said.

Adedipe urged the court to set aside the ex parte order of arrest it issued against Bello last week.

Adedipe, however, stated that, as of the time the order of arrest was issued against his client, the charge had not been served on him as required by law.

“As of the time the warrant was issued, the order for substituted service had not been made. That order was just made this morning.”

Pinheiro, on his part, urged the court to refuse the application unless the defendant made himself available for his trial.

He stated that the defendant cannot stay in hiding and file numerous applications for his arrest warrant to be vacated.

The EFCC counsel submitted that Bello should not be heard on the application.

He said: “The main issue should be ascertaining the whereabouts of the defendant. All these applications he is filing are nothing but dilatory tactics intended to delay his arraignment and frustrate the proceedings.

“Our position is that the defendant should be denied the right of being heard until he is physically present before this court.”

Pinheiro also argued that, as stated in Section 396 of the ACJA, 2015, the court cannot effectively assume jurisdiction to decide any application or objection in the matter until the defendant is arraigned.

Justice Egwuatu has adjourned till the 10th of May for ruling on the application.

How Bello declined EFCC’s invitation – Olukoyede

Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ola Olukoyede has disclosed that he made personal efforts to invite a former governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Adoza Bello to respond to investigations regarding his alleged involvement in money laundering to the tune of N80, 246,470,089.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty Six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eighty Nine Naira, Eighty Eight Kobo).

Olukoyede stated this in Abuja, Tuesday, while addressing media executives at the corporate headquarters of the EFCC. 

According to him, he had a telephone conversation with Bello offering him ample opportunities to present himself for interrogation by investigators of the EFCC.

“On my honour, I put a call to him to honour him as a former governor. He said, I can’t come, claiming that a certain lady has surrounded the EFCC with over 100 Journalists to embarrass or intimidate him and all that stuff.   

“I said if that is your fear, I will make you come directly to my floor.  I will invite my operatives to interrogate you in my own office.  What could be more honourable than that? Do you know what he said? ‘ Can’t they come to my village?’  My Director of Investigations also sent a message to him,” he said.

The EFCC’s boss said he was worried at the report of larceny available to the EFCC concerning the former governor, saying:  “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,  $7,2000 , in anticipation that he was going to leave government house.” 

Olukoyede also disclosed that the EFCC, in its bid to ensure the safety and stability of the foreign exchange market, has uncovered a new fraudulent scheme called P to P, peer to peer trading scheme.  The platform, according to him,   is operating outside the official banking and financial corridors, with more than 300 (three hundred) accounts linked to it already frozen by the EFCC. 

He reaffirmed the commitment of the Commission to the economic growth and development of the country, promising that the EFCC would not relent in the exercise of its mandate.  He told the media executives that the Commission has recovered more than N120billion from fraudsters within six months and secured more than 1300 convictions.

…Stop intimidating me, Bello tells EFCC

But the former governor has told the anti-graft body to stop what he described as intimidation, and asked the EFCC to obey court orders.

Bello said this Tuesday in a statement by his media office.

“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. 

“Contrary to Mr. Uwujaren’s claims, official records and court documents relating to their hounding of Alhaji Yahaya Bello establish a clear timeline of events. These documents are 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,” said the media office.

…Ex-aviation minister Sirika in EFCC net

In another development, the EFCC has arrested former aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.

Sirika was minister under the immediate past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. He is being fingered for his role in the ongoing N8 billion money laundering probe of the Nigeria Air.

Sirika reportedly arrived the Federal Capital Territory Command of the EFCC at about 1:00 pm Tuesday.