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HomeJustice/CrimeBREAKING NEWS: Fleeing Yahaya Bello absent as court adjourns; EFCC considers...

BREAKING NEWS: Fleeing Yahaya Bello absent as court adjourns; EFCC considers military’s help to fish him out

From L-R Ododo, Bello, EFCC logo (Photo:  ChannelsTV

AS expected, the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, allegedly assisted by his successor Usman Ododo, to escape arrest yesterday in Abuja, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was absent in court today, prompting Justice Emeka Nwite, of the Federal High Court Abuja,  to  adjourn the suit instituted by the EFCC against Bello, to April 23.

The adjournment is for substituted service and possible arraignment of Bello for alleged N84bn money laundering.

At the resumed sitting, Counsel for the EFCC, Kemi Phinro, told the court that the immediate past governor of Kogi State was absent from court for his arraignment because he was being protected by someone with immunity.

Phinro said the former governor was whisked out of his Abuja residence by the same person with immunity.

Phinro said the anti-graft agency might seek the help of the military to fish him out

Earlier, the anti-graft agency had said that it is an offence to prevent officers of the Commission from carrying out their lawful duties and that culprits risk a jail term of not less than five years.

The Commission, therefore, warned members of the public that it is a criminal offence to obstruct officers of the agency from carrying out their lawful duties.

 The Commission on Wednesday insisted that the former governor will be arraigned on Thursday (today) despite confirming that he was whisked away by his predecessor Usman Ododo on Wednesday.

The anti-graft agency issued the warning and also confirmed the arraignment of the governor in a separate statement signed by its Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, on Wednesday.

The EFCC spent most part of the day attempting to arrest the former governor whom the Commission later confirmed was whisked away by his predecessor.

The Commission’s spokesperson said that 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.

According to him, culprits risk a jail term of not less than five years.

This warning, Oyewale said 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,” the statement added.

The EFCC had insisted that it will arraign Bello before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday (tomorrow).

The Commission’s spokesperson said Bello will be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite, alongside three other suspects, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19- count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune 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).

Bello’s arraignment is coming on the heels of a warrant of arrest and enrolment order granted the EFCC by the court on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

“Count one of the charges 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”.

“Count 17 of the charges read: “That you Yahaya Bello between 26th July 2021 to 6th April 2022 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court aided E-Traders International Limited to conceal the aggregate sum of N3081,804,654.00( Three Billion, Eighty One Million Eight Hundred and Four Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Four Naira) in account number 1451458080 domiciled in Access Bank Plc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a), 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15( 3) of the same Act.

“Count 18 of the charges reads: “That you Yahaya Adoza Bello sometime in November 2021 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court indirectly procured E-Traders international Limited to transfer the aggregate sum of $570,330.00( Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand , Three Hundred and Thirty Dollars) to account number 4266644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15( 3) of the same Act”.

The Commission said its attempt to execute the Warrant of Arrest lawfully obtained against Bello met stiff resistance on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

“The security cordon around the former governor’s residence in Abuja was breached by the current Governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, who ensured that the suspect was spirited away in his official vehicle.

“As a responsible law enforcement agency, the EFCC exercised restraint in the face of the provocation, waiting for his arraignment on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

“It is needful to state that Bello is not above the law and would be brought to justice as soon as possible.”

 

 

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