N80bn probe: Why Yahaya Bello must surrender to EFCC – FG 

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of JusticePrince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has asked the immediate past governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello to surrender himself to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The AGF, in a statement he made available to newsmen, Thursday, warned that the anti-graft agency should not be obstructed from performing its lawful duty.

He said “the bizarre drama confronting the EFCC in the course of its efforts to perform its statutory duty,” with respect to the charge it filed against the erstwhile governor, has come to his notice, describing it as “a matter of very grave concern.”

“It is now beyond doubt that the EFCC is given power by the law to invite any person of interest to interact with them in the course of their investigation into any matter regardless of status.

“Therefore, the least that we can all do when invited, is not to put any obstruction in the way of EFCC but to honourably answer their invitation.

“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. 

“A flight from the law does not resolve issues at stake but only exacerbates it. 

“I state unequivocally that I stand for the rule of law and will promptly call EFCC and indeed any other agency to order when there is indication of any transgression of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian by any of the agencies but I also tenaciously hold the view that institutions of State should be allowed to function effectively and efficiently. 

“Nigeria has a vibrant judicial system that is capable of protecting everyone who follows the rule of law in seeking protection,” the AGF stated.

The EFCC had in a 19-count charge it filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, accused the ex-governor of complicity in money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds to the tune of over N80 billion.

Attempt by the commission to arrest him at his Abuja residence on Wednesday was allegedly thwarted by the incumbent governor of Kogi state, Ahmed Ododo, who was said to have whisked him away in his official car.

Vacate arrest warrant, restrain EFCC – Bello

Meanwhile, counsel to former Kogi state governor, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, has begged the Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate the arrest warrant order on the embattled former governor.

Making the plea during the proceedings, Mohammed told the court that a High Court of Kogi had on February 9, 2024, restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting, detaining or prosecuting Bello.

The ruling, according to him, was on fundamental rights suit filed by the former governor and that the EFCC was a party in the matter.

Although Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned till April 23 for ruling on the application, the anti-graft agency sought a substituted service of the charge on Bello.

Justice Nwite fixed the date after counsel to EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, and the ex-governor’s lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, presented their arguments for and against the oral application.

When the matter was called for the arraignment of Bello on a 19-count money laundering charge preferred against him, the former governor was not in court.

However, his team of lawyers, including Adeola Adedipe, SAN, was in court.

Mohammed at the proceedings challenged the validity of the charge on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the one hand and to have issued the arrest warrant against his client on the other hand. 

He informed the court that a preliminary objection had already been filed before the court to the effect.

The lawyer further urged the court to vacate the arrest warrant order, saying a High Court of Kogi had restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting, detaining or prosecuting Bello.