How Yahaya Bello Wired Kogi State Funds To Sort Child’s School Fees In Advance – EFCC Chairman reveals

Voice Air Media, VAM News Update

THE Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede has alleged that the immediate-past Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello withdrew $720,000 from the coffers of the state to pay his children’s school fees in advance.

Olukoyede, who spoke to newsmen at the EFCC Headquarters on Tuesday, vowed to resign his appointment if Bello is not prosecuted.

He vowed that all those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to book.

His words, “I am so passionate about the need for us to move forward in this country. A sitting Governor because he knows he is going, you move money directly from the government to Bureau de Change, use it to pay the child’s school fee in advance in dollars. $720,000 in anticipation that he was going to leave the government house in a poor state like Kogi. And you want me to close my eyes, under the guise of I am being used at this stage of my life. By who? I assumed office here six months ago.

“I did not initiate the case. I inherited the case file. I called for the file, I called for the report and I said something is wrong here. Do you know on my honour, I put a call through to him, something i was not supposed to have done because he is a former Governor. I told him, Sir, there are issues, let us clarify these issues. I am under camera. He told me Thank You, sir, I know, but I can’t come. There is a lady, a Senator that he learnt she has surrounded the EFCC with over 100 journalists to come and intimidate and embarrass him.

“I said if that’s the case. I am going to pass you through my gate, the special man’s gate, my floor, you will come through directly to my floor. You have my respect. I will invite my operatives to come and interview you in my own office to allay the fears. He said Thank You, sir, but can’t they come to my village? My director of investigation sent a message to him. We need this institution to survive.”

Olukoyede also berated media reports that the EFCC clamped down on the ex-Kogi governor, stressing that all efforts to arrest him civilly was aborted.

“I did not go after this man, not until the day we got this order. I told them to mount surveillance to forestall the breakdown of law and order. Eventually, when we got this order, we were supposed to move in. That was when the Governor (Usman Ododo) came in with his vehicle. Even though, they have denied, we have all the video evidence and he whisked this man away.

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“On arriving at his premises, we met over 30 armed policemen and 10 Counter Terrorist Unit personnel with him (Yahaya Bello). His CSO is a senior DSS officer. We met them there. I went with my gallant men, over 50 of them armed to the teeth. If i have opened fire, we would have killed people, and there would have been casualties. That is what people are condemning us for.

“We are a sophisticated law enforcement agency, We are not the military. What we investigate are financial crimes (white-collar crimes). There are certain things that may be lawful for us but may not be expedient and nobody would have asked me to do it. I am a lawyer. So, if I had killed one or two people because of a white-collar crime, what would I have done if it were terrorists?

“Was it not worse for him to have even run away that day because if he had submitted himself to us that day, we wouldn’t have declared him wanted.”

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

He said that no matter what anyone does or the amount of attack against the anti-graft agency, he and his men will not relent in helping to sanitise the country.

Olukoyede said the EFCC needs the support of Nigerians to succeed as he emphasised that if the agency fails, Nigeria fails.

He stated that the efforts made currently have helped the value of the Naira and the foreign market.

Legal Fireworks

Meanwhile, the EFCC has served a copy of the charge sheet of alleged fraud to the tune of N80bn against the immediate past governor on his lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohamed.

This followed a Tuesday order by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja after Bello’s absence in court.

He was absent from court for his arraignment on a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering to the tune of ₦80bn.

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The judge relied on section 384 (4 and 5) of the Administrative and Criminal Justice Act 2015, directing the counsel to the immediate past governor to receive a copy of the charge.

The court held that where it had become impossible to effect personal service of a legal process on a defendant, such could be done through substituted means.

Justice Nwite further held that it was clear that the former governor failed to appear in court for his arraignment.

Although Bello’s lawyer, Mohammed, initially declined to accept the charges and proof of evidence, he was compelled to do so by Justice Nwite.

The judge rejected the plea by the senior lawyer that a junior lawyer in his team, AI Musa, be the one to accept the charges on behalf of the former governor.

A member of the legal team for Bello, Adedayo Adedipe, told the court that his client would have made himself available, but was afraid of being of a lack of fair hearing and justice.

He added that Bello was ready to appear before the court to answer the 19-count charge preferred against him by the EFCC.

Adedipe urged the court, to set aside the ex-parte order of arrest it had earlier issued against the former governor, saying that at the time the order of arrest was made, the charge had not been served on his client.

Illegal Organisation?

Bello had argued that the EFCC was an illegal organisation. According to him, the Federal Government did not consult the 36 states of the federation before enacting the EFCC Act through the National Assembly. He added that section 12 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, required the various Houses of Assembly to ratify the act before it could become operative.

Counsel to the EFCC, Kemi Phinheiro, however, urged the court to dismiss the application, insisting that the warrant of arrest should not be set aside until the defendant makes himself available for trial.

He argued that Bello did not have the legal ground to file numerous applications while in hiding.

Justice Nwite had last week issued a bench warrant against Bello following an application to that effect by EFCC.

The EFCC subsequently declared the former governor wanted for his persistent absence in court and for evading the criminal charges against him.

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