EFCC vs Yahaya Bello: The limit of overzealousness – Lere Olayinka

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Yesterday, the EFCC declared former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello WANTED for an alleged financial crime to the tune of N80.2 billion.

This was promptly followed by the placement of the former governor on WATCHLIST to prevent him from escaping from the country.

The Nigerian Immigration Service, in a circular dated April 18, 2024 and signed by Assistant Comptroller of Immigration DS Umar, for the Comptroller-General, Kemi Nandap, alerted the police and the Department of State Services to effect the former governor’s arrest.

While I am of the opinion that Yahaya Bello should make himself available to the EFCC for TRIAL, after all, a clear conscience fears no accusation, the overzealousness of the EFCC, both in the past and now remains a source of concern.

For instance, as published on EFCC WEBSITE, COUNT ONE of the charges against Yahaya Bello reads: That you, Yahaya Adoza Bello, Ali Bello, Dauda Suliman, and Abdulsalam Hudu( Still at large), sometime, in FEBRUARY, 2016, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N80, 246,470, 088.88( Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty Six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eight Nine Naira, Eighty Eight Kobo), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended”.

EFCC said Yahaya Bello stole N80.3bn in FEBRUARY 2016.

Yahaya Bello assumed office as Governor of Kogi State on JANUARY 27, 2016.

Did he and others steal N80.3bn in one month?

That is, Yayaya Bello’s predecessor, Idris Wada left N80.3bn in the Treasury of Kogi State or the January 2016 Federal Allocation to Kogi State was N80.3bn and Yayaya Bello, who assumed office on January 27, 2016 stole the money in February?

Just one out of the many obvious display of overzealousness by the EFCC.

In 2018, the moment the results of the Ekiti State governorship election was released, EFCC went on Twitter (now X) to tweet: “The parri (party) is over, the cloak of immunity torn apart, and the staff broken. Ekiti Integrated Poultry Project/Biologival concepts Limited N1.3 billion fraud case file dusted off the shelves. See you soon.”

The tweet was deleted about three hours later. But before then it had gone viral online, eliciting criticisms from many Nigerians who interpreted it as a reflection of the commission’s partisanship.

Obviously, the only thing being done to Yahaya Bello now that EFCC has not done to former governors before was declaring him wanted. In the past, even sitting governors were placed on WATCHLIST to prevent them from escaping from the country. Some of those former governors are still facing trial while EFCC has lost cases against some of them.

Therefore, Yahaya Bello is not the first to drink the EFCC tea of overzealousness and definitely, he won’t be the last.

However, like I have said before, in spite of the court order barring EFCC from arresting and prosecuting him, Governor Yahaya Bello needs to show that even if it is persecution, he is not afraid. He should consult his lawyers and let them see reasons he should make himself available to the EFCC, because as it is now, he is facing two courts – Court of Law and Court of Public Opinion.

©My name is still Lere Olayinka. I am here on the topmost part of Oke Agbonna in Okemesi Ekiti, eating ẹran ìgbẹ́ and drinking early morning palm wine with the Irunmales.

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