JUST IN: Tinubu’s government asks ex-Kogi governor Yahaya Bello to surrender himself to EFCC

The federal government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has warned Nigerians against obstructing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from carrying out its lawful duty.

This warning was contained in a statement issued by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) in Abuja on Thursday.

The immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, has continued to obstruct efforts by the commission’s officials to arrest him on matters bordering on corruption allegations.

The charge filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, with charge FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024, and dated March 9, 2024, listed Yahaya Adoza Bello as the sole Defendant while the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the complainant.

The EFCC in the charge accused the ex-governor of conversion of a total of N80,246,470,089.88 being funds belonging to the Kogi State government in February 2016 to himself, an offence which is contrary to Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.

Bello was also accused of indirectly using one Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu to use the sum of N950 million being proceeds of crime for the acquisition of property lying, being and situated at No. 35 Danube Street, Maitama District, Abuja

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

The agency in a statement on Wednesday night lamented that Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi State whisked Bello away in his official vehicle, preventing his arrest.

However, the AGF reacting to the development on Thursday maintained that EFCC is empowered by law to invite any Nigerian for interrogation.

The AGF said: “The bizarre drama confronting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the course of its efforts to perform its statutory duty has come to my notice (Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice) as a matter of very grave concern.

“It is now beyond doubt that the EFCC is given power by the law to invite any person of interest to interact with them in the course of their investigation into any matter regardless of status.

“Therefore, the least that we can all do when invited, is not to put any obstruction in the way of EFCC but to honourably answer their invitation.

“A situation where public officials who are themselves subject of protection by law enforcement agents will set up a stratagem of obstruction to the civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty is to say the least, insufferably disquieting. A flight from the law does not resolve issues at stake but only exacerbates it.

“I state unequivocally that I stand for the rule of law and will promptly call EFCC and indeed any other agency to order when there is indication of any transgression of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian by any of the agencies but I also tenaciously hold the view that institutions of State should be allowed to function effectively and efficiently.

“Nigeria has a vibrant judicial system that is capable of protecting everyone who follows the rule of law in seeking protection.

“I therefore encourage anyone who has been invited by the EFCC or any other agency to immediately toe the path of decency and civility by honouring such invitation instead of embarking on a temporising self-help and escapism that can only put our country in bad light before the rest of the world.”

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