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Yahaya Bello evades EFCC arrest

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Yahaya Bello, the immediate past governor of Kogi State, is currently in hiding and on Monday cancelled his trip to Okene town in order not to “expose” himself to operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who are on the lookout for him.

Top government sources said Bello was still at the Government House, Lokoja, where he could enjoy the “protection” of his predecessor and godson, Usman Ododo, while other sources claimed his whereabouts are unknown.

The EFCC concluded plans to probe Yahaya Bello for alleged fraud and corrupt practices he was involved in during his eight-year tenure.

It had been learned that the commission would invite Yahaya Bello for questioning to account for his eight years of administration.

Chronicle NG reported on Saturday how Bello’s tenure ended as the youngest governor in Kogi State as Usman Ododo, his godson, succeeded him.

A top source said, “EFCC is currently after Bello. He was meant to go to Okene, but when he heard of their presence, he cancelled it and is hiding in Government House, Lokoja, currently, Saharareporters reported Tuesday.”

“He’s clearly attempting to evade arrest, and he may have also left the Government House,” another source said.

It had been reported that 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 N400 million linked to him, 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.

To add to that, it said the court made a mistake and harmed justice by not following 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 about how to correctly interpret Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.

The EFCC also said that the trial court made a legal mistake when it overturned a preservation order for properties that were thought to have been bought with money from illegal activities, even though the respondent had not shown where the money that was used to buy the properties under the preservation order really came from.

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 UAE,” were reasonably suspected to have been derived from illegal activity.

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