EFCC chairman vows to resign if Yahaya Bello shielded from prosecution

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has vowed to resign his appointment as helmsman of the anti-graft commission if the embattled former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello was not prosecuted.

Olukoyede spoke with editors, Bureau Chiefs, and media executives at the EFCC Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, on Tuesday, amid the raging controversy and counter-claims between the EFCC and the ex-governor.

He claimed on Tuesday that investigation by the anti-graft agency revealed that the embattled former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, withdrew $720,000 from the state’s coffers to pay his child’s school fees.

The EFCC Chairman said he had personally put a call through to Bello, inviting him to clear the air on the issues but he refused to honour invitations.

Bello is insisting that the attempt by the EFCC to arrest and prosecute him for an alleged N80.2bn fraud was in violation of a February 6 order of the Federal High Court in Lokoja restraining the anti-graft agency.

He noted that though the EFCC had appealed the order, he could not be arrested or arraigned until the order had been lifted.

Following a failed attempt to arrest him in his Abuja residence last week Wednesday and the ex-governor’s absence from the Federal High Court where he was scheduled to be arraigned last Thursday, the EFCC declared him wanted and subsequently the Nigerian Immigration Service placed him on watchlist. He has been in hiding since.

But addressing journalists on Tuesday, the EFCC chairman said the anti-graft agency’s move against Bello was constitutional, given the alleged fraud uncovered against him.

Olukoyede said, “A sitting governor, because he knew he was going, removed money directly from the government’s account (and sent) to Bureau de Change, and used it to pay his child’s school fee in advance.

“Dollars – $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the government house.”

Olukoyede said when the alleged fraud was uncovered by the EFCC, he invited Bello for a talk, but he rebuffed the call.

“I called Yahaya Bello, as a serving governor, to come to my office to clear himself. I shouldn’t have done that. But he said because a certain senator had planted over 100 journalists in my office, he would not come.

“I told him that he would be allowed to use my private gate to give him a cover, but he said my men should come to his village to interrogate him.”

Olukoyede insisted that the EFCC did not violate any law by trying to arrest the former governor at his residence.

“Rather, we have obeyed the law. I inherited the case and I didn’t create it. Why has he not submitted himself to the law?” he asked.

The EFCC chairman said anyone obstructing Bello’s arrest would have the law to contend with.

Olukoyede said, “I have arraigned two past governors who have been granted bail now – Willie Obiano and Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“If I can do Obiano, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Chief Olu Agunloye, my kinsman, why not Yahaya Bello?” Olukoyede said.

 Speaking on the siege laid to Bello’s Abuja home last Wednesday, the EFCC chairman said, “We would have gone after him since January but we waited for the court order.

“As early as 7 am, my men were there, over 50 of them. They mounted surveillance. We met over 30 armed policemen there. We would have exchanged fire and there would have been casualties.

“My men were about to move in when the Governor of Kogi State drove in and they later changed the narrative.”

Olukoyede vowed that all those who had dipped their hands into the nation’s coffers would be investigated and prosecuted.

Meanwhile,   the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned till May 10 to rule on Bello’s request to have the arrest warrant issued against him lifted.

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