News

April 18, 2024

Submit yourself to EFCC, AGF tells ex-Kogi Gov, Bello

Yahaya Bello: Court adjourns to June 13 for arraignment

Former Governor Yahaya Bello

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince 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 on 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.

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

“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.

“I therefore encourage anyone who has been invited by the EFCC or any other agency to immediately toe the path of decency and civility by honouring such invitation instead of embarking on a temporising self-help and escapism that can only put our country in bad light before the rest of the world,” the AGF added.

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 about N84 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.

We Will No Longer Tolerate Obstruction of Our Operations

Condemning the event that played out yesterday, EFCC through its Head, Media & Publicity, Dele Oyewale, warned that the agency would no longer tolerate further obstructions in its operations.

It noted that: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission wishes to warn members of the public that it is a criminal offence to obstruct officers of the Commission from carrying out their lawful duties.

“Section 38(2)(a(b) of the EFCC Establishment Act makes it an offence to prevent officers of the Commission from carrying out their lawful duties. Culprits risk a jail term of not less than five years.

“This warning becomes necessary against the background of the increasing tendency by persons and groups under investigation by the Commission to take the laws into their hands by recruiting thugs to obstruct lawful operations of the EFCC.

“On several occasions, operatives of the Commission have had to exercise utmost restraint in the face of such provocation to avoid a breakdown of law and order. Regrettably, such disposition is being construed as a sign of weakness.

“The Commission, therefore, warns that it will henceforth not tolerate any attempt by any person or organisation to obstruct its operation as such will be met with appropriate punitive actions”.

Vanguard Newspaper