Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Charged with N84 Billion Money Laundering, Declared Wanted by EFCC

Former Kogi governor Yahaya Bello charged with N84 billion money laundering, evades EFCC arrest with alleged help from current governor. Highlights challenges in holding high-profile figures accountable for corruption in Nigeria.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Charged with N84 Billion Money Laundering, Declared Wanted by EFCC

Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Charged with N84 Billion Money Laundering, Declared Wanted by EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello with N84 billion money laundering offenses and declared him wanted, despite a court order barring his arrest and an ongoing trial. Bello, who served as governor from 2016 to 2024, is accused of conspiring to launder the hefty sum that was allegedly diverted from state coffers for personal gain.

The EFCC had attempted to arrest Bello at his Abuja residence on Wednesday, but he managed to escape, allegedly with the help of the current Kogi State Governor, Usman Ododo, who reportedly whisked him away from the scene. In response, the EFCC has declared Bello wanted, and the Nigeria Immigration Service has placed him on a watchlist to prevent him from fleeing the country.

Bello's police aides, including his aide-de-camp, are believed to have helped him avoid the arrest. The police have detained the aide-de-camp and other officers attached to Bello on suspicion of aiding and abetting his escape from the EFCC operatives. The Inspector General of Police has ordered the withdrawal of all police officers assigned to Bello.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, condemned the obstruction of the EFCC's efforts to arrest Bello, stating that citizens should not put any obstacles in the way of the EFCC's lawful duties. However, Bello's lawyer, Abdulwahab Mohammed, argued that Bello had secured a court order restraining the EFCC from inviting, arresting, or prosecuting him over the subject matter of the charges.

Why this matters: The pursuit of Yahaya Bello by the EFCC underscores the agency's mandate to combat corruption and financial crimes, sending a strong message that individuals implicated in corrupt practices will be held accountable for their actions. The case also highlights the ongoing challenges faced by anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria when dealing with high-profile political figures.

The events have raised questions about the EFCC's actions and jurisdiction, as well as the involvement of the current Kogi State Governor in the matter. The Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned Bello's money laundering case to April 23 through substituted means, after the EFCC failed to produce him in court. As the investigation progresses, the Attorney-General of the Federation has advised Bello to surrender to the EFCC to avoid disrupting the process, emphasizing that the EFCC has the legal authority to summon any individual for investigation, regardless of their position or status.

Key Takeaways

  • EFCC charges ex-Kogi Gov Yahaya Bello with N84B money laundering, declares him wanted.
  • Bello evaded EFCC arrest with help from current Kogi gov Ododo, his police aides.
  • EFCC has placed Bello on a watchlist to prevent him from fleeing, detained his aides.
  • Bello's lawyer claims he has court order restraining EFCC from arresting him.
  • AG condemns obstruction of EFCC, says the agency has legal authority to summon anyone.