Yahaya Bello Evades EFCC Probe into Alleged N80 Billion Misappropriation

An Abuja appeal court has stayed contempt proceedings against EFCC Chairman Ola Olukoyede, initiated by former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello. Bello is accused of misappropriating N80.2 billion during his tenure and is under EFCC investigation.

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Yahaya Bello Evades EFCC Probe into Alleged N80 Billion Misappropriation

Yahaya Bello Evades EFCC Probe into Alleged N80 Billion Misappropriation

The appeal, court, stays, execution, proceedings, chai in Abuja has issued an order staying contempt proceedings initiated by former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its chairman, Ola Olukoyede. The development comes amidst allegations that Bello misappropriated over 80 billion Naira during his tenure, which ended in January 2024.

Bello had filed a fundamental human rights suit against the EFCC to shield himself from arrest and detention. On February 9, 2024, Justice Isa Abdullahi Jamil of the Kogi State High Court issued an interim order restraining the EFCC from arresting, detaining, or prosecuting Bello pending the determination of the suit. However, on April 17, EFCC laid siege to Bello's residence in Abuja, violating the court order.

Why this matters: The allegations of corruption and abuse of power by Yahaya Bello have far-reaching implications for Nigeria's governance and economy, highlighting the need for accountability and transparency in public office. If left unchecked, such corruption can perpetuate a culture of impunity and undermine trust in institutions, ultimately affecting the country's development and stability.

In response, Bello approached the Kogi High Court and filed a contempt suit against EFCC Chairman Ola Olukoyede. Justice Jamil declared that the EFCC's actions were in direct violation of an active court order, constituting contempt. "The said act was carried out by the respondent (EFCC) in violation of the order, which was valid and subsisting when they carried out the act," Justice Jamil stated. "That same act of the Respondent amounts to Contempt."

The EFCC appealed the contempt charge, filing motions for a stay of execution and substituted service. A three-member panel of the granted the motions and adjourned the hearing of the substantive appeal to May 20, 2024. The court also ordered substituted service of all processes to be pasted at Bello's last known address in Abuja.

The EFCC is investigating 58 former governors, including Bello, for alleged misappropriation, embezzlement, or laundering of approximately N2.187 trillion over 25 years. Bello, specifically, is accused of misappropriating N80.2 billion during his tenure as governor of Kogi State from 2016 to 2024. The amount allegedly misappropriated by Bello is equivalent to a substantial portion of the combined budgets of Lagos State and the South-East states for 2024.

Nigeria's former Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, has criticized the EFCC's handling of the investigation. Aondoakaa stated that the EFCC made a fundamental error by including Bello in a charge relating to events predating his tenure as governor. He advised the EFCC to follow the order of the court, which directed that Bello should not be arrested, but rather issued a summons to appear in court.

Thestay of execution and proceedings in the contempt suit against the EFCC chairman provides a temporary respite in the ongoing legal battle. As the investigation into Yahaya Bello's alleged misappropriation of N80 billion continues, the outcome of the substantive appeal scheduled for May 20 will be crucial in determining the course of action for both the EFCC and the former governor.

Key Takeaways

  • Appeal court stays contempt proceedings against EFCC chairman Ola Olukoyede.
  • Yahaya Bello accused of misappropriating N80.2 billion during his tenure as Kogi State governor.
  • EFCC investigating 58 former governors, including Bello, for alleged corruption.
  • Bello filed a fundamental human rights suit to shield himself from arrest and detention.
  • Substantive appeal scheduled for May 20, 2024, to determine course of action.