EFCC SET TO PICK KOGI EX-GOVERNOR, YAHAYA BELLO FOR ALLEGED FRAUD
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has concluded plans to probe the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, for alleged fraud and corrupt practices he was involved in during his eight-year tenure.
It was learnt that the commission would invite Yahaya Bello for questioning to account for his eight years of administration.
Bello’s immunity expired after the end of his tenure and reign as Kogi State’s executive governor. Without immunity, Bello may be arrested by the commission for alleged money laundering and financial breaches while serving as Kogi State’s former governor, according to Daily Times.
Bello’s tenure ended as the youngest governor in Kogi State last Saturday. He was succeeded by his party man, Usman Ododo.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos struck out the commission’s suit seeking the forfeiture of 14 properties belonging to Yahaya Bello as well as the sum of N400m linked to the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, citing his immunity from prosecution under the 1999 constitution.
The Commission’s notice of appeal stated that Justice Oweibo erred in law when he dismissed the suit because the Respondent’s immunity from civil or criminal proceedings during his tenure as governor of Kogi State does not extend to properties reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime traced to him.
It also stated that the court erred and caused a miscarriage of justice by refusing to bind itself to the Court of Appeal’s decision in EFCC V Fayose (2018) LPELR 44131 CA and the Supreme Court’s decision in Fawehinmi V IGP (2002)7 NWLR (PT767)606, on the proper interpretation of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.
The EFCC also claimed that the learned trial court erred in law when it overturned a preservation order for properties reasonably suspected to have been derived from the proceeds of illegal activities, despite its findings that the Respondent failed to demonstrate the genuine origin of funds used to acquire the properties under the preservation order.
On Wednesday, February 22, 2023, Justice Oweibo granted an interim forfeiture of the properties in Lagos, Abuja, and the United Arab Emirates, and also ordered the preservation of the sum of N400,000,000.00 (Four Hundred Million Naira) recovered from one Aminu Falala, which “is reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity and intended to be used for the acquisition of Plot No. 1224 Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria.”
Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, counsel to the EFCC, moved the application, stating that the properties, including “Hotel Apartment Community, Burj Khalifa lying, being and situate at, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai U.A.E.”, were reasonably suspected to have been derived from illegal activity.In his verdict, Justice Oweibo granted the motion as requested, ordering the Commission to publish the interim order in any national newspaper within 14 days, and adjourned the case to March 28, 2023.