News

April 18, 2024

Courts give contradictory orders amid EFCC’s siege of Yahaya Bello’s residence

Why Force Headquarters ordered detention of Yahaya Bello's ADC

Former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello

By Soni Daniel & Boluwaji Obahopo

Lokoja—Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have laid siege to the Abuja residence of the immediate past governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. 

According to eyewitnesses, EFCC officials stormed the ex-governor’s residence around 9am, yesterday, and barricaded it since then. 

Some supporters of the former governor were seen in front of the house.

Recall that mid-March, the EFCC indicted Yahaya Bello, in an alleged diversion of about N100 billion, an offence said to have been committed months before he assumed office as governor in September 2015.

The EFCC had joined Yahaya Bello in the amended suit alongside the Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor, Alli Bello, and one Daudu Suleiman who was re-arraigned by the anti-graft agency before Justice James Omotoso of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The Kogi State Government had faulted the anti-graft agency and described as a “witch-hunt”, the charges against the immediate past governor, saying no money was missing in the state and that it did not authorize the agency to try the former governor or any other person.

Giving insight to the reason behind the siege to Bello’s residence, a top official of the anti-graft agency confirmed to Vanguard that operatives of the commission were in ex-governor Bello’s residence to arrest him with a view to arraigning him in court over alleged looting of Kogi treasury while he was governor, saying “It’s true that our men are at the former governor’s residence in Abuja to arrest him so that he can defend himself in court in relation to the N84 billion fraud case we had instituted against him.

“Our men are armed with relevant warrant of arrest of the former governor. As soon as he is picked up by our men, he would be charged to court and be given the opportunity to defend himself over the graft allegation against him and the others.”  

Reacting to the siege, Media Office of the former governor in a statement by Onogwu Mohammed condemned the invasion, describing it as illegal as the matter was already on an appeal.

According to the statement, the presence of the operatives in Bello’s residence was in breach of the February 9, 2024 order of Lokoja High Court, which restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining or prosecuting the former governor.

The statement said: “The EFCC was duly served with that order on February 12, 2024, and on February 26, 2024, the EFCC filed an appeal (Appeal No.: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission versus Alhaji Yahaya Bello) against the said order to the Court of Appeal Abuja Division. The appeal was accompanied by a Motion for a Stay of Execution of the order of the High Court, which the Court of Appeal adjourned for hearing till April 22, 2024.

“Furthermore, judgment in the substantive case between Alhaji Yahaya Bello and the EFCC will be delivered at 12 noon today in Lokoja.” 

“Contrary to all of the above, the EFCC has now laid siege to the home of H.E Yahaya Bello, seeking to arrest him in contravention of the extant orders!

“It is a surprise that an agency led by a lawyer could flagrantly disobey a subsisting court order by taking actions contrary to the reliefs granted”.

Contradictory

orders

Meanwhile, there was confusion at the Federal High Court, in Abuja yesterday as the court ordered the arrest of Bello for arraignment in court today, despite a substantive judgment by a Kogi State High Court earlier on the same day, restraining the EFCC from harassing, arresting detaining or prosecuting the Governor.

Justice I.A Jamil of High Court IV gave the restraining order in a two-hour judgment delivered  in Lokoja at about 12pm, “By this order, the EFCC is hereby restrained from arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant.” 

However, in a twist, the Federal High Court (which is of coordinate jurisdiction), ordered the arrest of the former governor for arraignment in court on Thursday.

The EFCC had appealed against the February order, and the appeal is scheduled for hearing on April 22.

Justice Emeka Nwite, who gave the order of arrest said by the Act establishing the EFCC, it has the power to arrest with or without warrant of arrest.