Monday, May 20, 2024

EFCC declares Yahaya Bello wanted for “N80bn fraud”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, wanted for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.2billion.

The EFCC on Thursday said in a bulletin that “anybody with information as to his whereabout should report immediately to the Commission or the nearest police station.”

Counsel for the EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro, had lamented Bello’s absence from court for his arraignment.

The lawyer noted that the former governor was being protected by someone with immunity, who prevented his arrest on Wednesday by whisking him away in his official vehicle.

Pinheiro said the agency might seek the help of the military to fish out Bello so that he can be arraigned.

Bello’s lawyer argued that the defendant had secured an ex parte order from a High Court restraining the anti-graft agency from arresting and prosecuting the former governor.

He noted that the agency had appealed against the order at the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday granted the EFCC permission to arrest the embattled former governor.

On Wednesday night, the EFCC said it would on Thursday (today) arraign Bello before the Abuja court over alleged N80.2 billion money laundering.

However, the EFCC lamented that its attempt to execute the warrant of arrest lawfully obtained against Bello met stiff resistance on Wednesday.

“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,” it said.

The anti-graft agency said in a statement issued on Wednesday night by its Head of Media & Publicity, Dele Oyewale, that Bello will be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite alongside three other suspects including his cousin, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N80,246,470,088.88.

According to Oyewale, Bello’s arraignment would come on the heels of a warrant of arrest and enrolment order granted to the EFCC by the court on Wednesday.

Count one of the charges against 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.”



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