Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Declared Wanted by EFCC Over N80 Billion Fraud Charges

Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello wanted by EFCC for alleged N80bn money laundering. EFCC threatens to involve military to bring him to court as he lost immunity. Case highlights Nigeria's fight against corruption.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Declared Wanted by EFCC Over N80 Billion Fraud Charges

Former Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello Declared Wanted by EFCC Over N80 Billion Fraud Charges

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello wanted in connection with an alleged N80 billion money laundering case. The anti-graft agency obtained a court warrant for Bello's arrest but was unable to execute it as police officers attached to his residence obstructed the EFCC operatives.

The EFCC has now filed a fresh charge of 19 counts against Bello, accusing him of conspiring with his nephew, Ali Bello, and two others to convert a total sum of N80 billion belonging to Kogi State to their personal use in February 2016, which was Bello's first month in office as governor. The commission has threatened to invite the military to produce Bello in court if necessary, as he has lost his immunity from prosecution.

Bello's legal team challenged the validity of the charge, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction and that a High Court in Kogi had previously restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining, or prosecuting him. However, the EFCC lawyer argued that the matter was scheduled for Bello's arraignment and that his counsel could be served in open court for the matter to proceed.

The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed April 23 to rule on an application by the EFCC to serve the 19-count money laundering charge on Bello by substituted means. The court adjourned the case pending further developments.

Why this matters: The case against former Governor Yahaya Bello highlights ongoing efforts to tackle corruption and financial crimes in Nigeria. The substantial amount of money allegedly laundered underscores the scale of the problem and the need for accountability among public officials.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, has warned Bello that taking flight from the law would not resolve the issues and advised him to honor the EFCC's invitation. The police have withdrawn their security personnel from Bello, and the Nigeria Immigration Service has put him on a watchlist, preventing him from traveling out of the country. As the case unfolds, it remains to be seen how Bello will respond to the charges and whether the EFCC will succeed in bringing him to court to face trial.

Key Takeaways

  • EFCC declares former Kogi governor Yahaya Bello wanted in N80B money laundering case
  • EFCC files 19-count charge against Bello, accusing him of converting state funds to personal use
  • EFCC threatens to invite military to produce Bello in court as he lost immunity from prosecution
  • Bello's legal team challenges charge, but court to rule on EFCC's application to serve him by substituted means
  • Attorney General warns Bello to honor EFCC invitation, as police withdraw security and immigration service puts him on watchlist