Editorial

April 24, 2024

Yahaya Bello’s arrest evasion

Yahaya Bello: Court adjourns to June 13 for arraignment

Former Governor Yahaya Bello

ON Wednesday, April 17, 2024, a show of shame to our democracy and disgrace to Nigeria was played out on live television when the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, conflated a web of intrigues to evade arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, operatives.

 The Commission had obtained an arrest warrant from an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Emeka Nwite, but Bello, who had a subsisting order from a High Court in Lokoja to protect him from arrest, cried out to President Bola Tinubu to “call the EFCC to order”.

Also, his supporters had surrounded his Abuja home to protect him from EFCC operatives while he barricaded himself within his mansion. His hand-picked successor, Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo, later came with his convoy and spirited him away.

Questions are being asked about the suspicious and ignoble role of the judiciary in this saga. Why would a court give an order to stop the law enforcement agencies from calling in a former governor to answer to criminal allegations hanging against him after his tenure of office? Outgoing governors are very fond of obtaining such orders from their state high courts in attempts to escape justice.

 Can’t the National Judicial Commission, NJC, put an end to this ignominious manner of conflicting rulings by courts of coordinate jurisdictions? Why should the judiciary continue to lend itself to use by politicians to evade the law after enjoying constitutional immunity from prosecution?

By granting orders precluding former governors from arrest and prosecution, the courts indirectly help cover these politicians with fake and illegal immunity, thus totally thwarting the intendments of ensuring that such office-holders are held to account.

It is unfortunate that governors, in particular, have gone to great lengths to bastardise our democratic institutions for personal gratification. They corrupted the State Houses of Assembly and disarmed them of their constitutional powers to assert checks and balances, especially with regard to the management of state funds.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo created the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies to bring such former office-holders to book when their immunities expire. Their use of the courts to protect themselves from arrest, if allowed to play out to the Supreme Court, is a ploy to delay justice and eventually escape it through political manipulations.

Governor Ododo’s interference in this case did not help matters.  He should not interfere with the work of the EFCC.

The EFCC must be allowed to do its job.