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Appeal Court hears EFCC appeal against Yahaya Bello’s arrest today

Appeal Court hears EFCC appeal against Yahaya Bello’s arrest today

The Court of Appeal in Abuja is poised to convene today to deliberate upon an appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a restraining order issued by the Kogi State High Court, which precludes the anti-graft agency from taking action against the former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.

Rendered on February 9, 2024, the decree from the Kogi court prohibits the EFCC from “inviting, arresting, detaining, prosecuting” Bello pending the resolution of a fundamental rights lawsuit he initiated before the court.

The EFCC endeavors to arraign the former governor on 19 counts related to money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds totaling N80.2bn.

In their pursuit of Bello, the EFCC sought an arrest warrant from the Federal High Court in Abuja last Wednesday, coinciding with the pronouncement of judgment by the Federal High Court in Kogi on Bello’s fundamental human rights litigation.

Despite the issuance of the arrest warrant, the EFCC’s attempt to apprehend Bello at his residence in Abuja proved futile.

Consequently, the former governor remained absent for arraignment the following day, prompting Justice Nwite to adjourn proceedings for arraignment and ruling until Tuesday, April 23.

Although Bello was not present to enter his plea, his legal team, headed by Mr. Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN), apprised the court of the pending appeal.

Mohammed contended that the EFCC’s application for an arrest warrant against Bello was improper given the concurrent proceedings before the appeal court.

Contrary to Mohammed’s assertion, the EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinehero, argued in favor of proceeding with the trial.

In its appeal, lodged through solicitor J.S. Okutepa (SAN), the EFCC seeks a stay of execution of the Kogi State trial court’s order.

Marked CA/ABJ/PRE/RDA/CV/165MI, the appeal contests the court’s order on the grounds that it impedes the agency’s statutory mandate to investigate and prosecute economic crimes as delineated under sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC Act.

The EFCC rebuked the lower court’s order as an obstruction, asserting that it hinders the agency’s fulfillment of its statutory obligations.

Meanwhile, Jesutega Onokpasa, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, denounced what he deemed the unjust persecution of Bello by the EFCC.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Sunday, Onokpasa condemned the prosecution of the former governor and characterized attempts to restrain Bello as a concerted witch-hunt.

Onokpasa, joined by fellow party chieftains Abubakar Iliyasu and Felix Etedjere, emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law and cautioned against the erosion of legal protections afforded to all citizens.

The trio condemned what they perceived as a campaign of intimidation against Bello and called upon citizens and political figures alike to reject such excesses.



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