Yahaya Bello: We’ll no longer allow obstruction of our operations, says EFCC

...call EFCC to order, Yahaya Bello tells Tinubu

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned members of the public that it is a criminal offence to obstruct its officers from carrying out their lawful duties.

The warning comes after Usman Ododo, governor of Kogi, “rescued” Yahaya Bello, his predecessor, from the commission’s siege in Abuja on Wednesday.

The EFCC operatives had earlier restricted movement in and around Bello’s house situated on Benghazi street, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

But after a few hours, Ododo arrived at Bello’s residence and was later seen leaving with his predecessor.

The anti-graft agency had named Bello in an amended money laundering charge filed against Alli Bello, chief of staff to the incumbent governor of Kogi.

In a statement on Wednesday, Dele Oyewale, spokesperson of the agency, said the warning became necessary due to the “increasing tendency of persons and groups under investigation by the commission” to “take the laws into their hands by recruiting thugs to obstruct lawful operations of the EFCC”.

”Section 38(2)(a(b) of the EFCC Establishment Act makes it an offence to prevent officers of the Commission from carrying out their lawful duties. Culprits risk a jail term of not less than five years,“ the statement reads.

“On several occasions, operatives of the Commission have had to exercise utmost restraint in the face of such provocation to avoid a breakdown of law and order. Regrettably, such disposition is being construed as a sign of weakness.

“The Commission, therefore, warns that it will henceforth not tolerate any attempt by any person or organisation to obstruct its operation as such will be met with appropriate punitive actions.”

Meanwhile, the former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has called on President Bola Tinubu to call the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to order over an attempt to arrest him for alleged N84 billion money laundering offences.

Bello made the call after EFCC operatives stormed his house in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, apparently to arrest him on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

The immediate past governor, in a statement issued by his media officer, Onogwu Muhammed, called for Tinubu’s intervention, saying “Nigeria is not a lawless country”.

Muhammed stated: “At about 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 17, persons who identified themselves as officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrived at the Wuse Zone 4 Residence of Alhaji Yahaya Bello to effect his arrest.

“This is in spite of a subsisting order of injunction granted on 9th February 2024 by the High Court of Justice, Lokoja Division in Suit No. HCL/68M/2024 between Alhaji Yahaya Bello v Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, restraining the Commission either by itself or its agents from harassing, arresting, detaining or prosecuting Alhaji Yahaya Bello, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive fundamental rights enforcement action.

“The EFCC was duly served with that order on 12th February 2024 and on 26th February 2024; the EFCC filed an Appeal (Appeal No.: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission v Alhaji Yahaya Bello) against the said Order to the Court of Appeal Abuja division.

“The appeal was accompanied by a Motion for Stay of Execution of the Order of the High Court which the Court of Appeal adjourned for hearing till the 22nd day of April 2024.

“Furthermore, judgement in the substantive case between Bello and the EFCC is to be delivered at noon today in Lokoja.

Kogi gov rescues Bello as EFCC operatives end siege at Abuja house

“Contrary to all of the above, the EFCC has now laid siege to the home of the former governor seeking to arrest him in contravention of the extant orders!

“It is a surprise that an agency led by a lawyer could flagrantly disobey a subsisting court order by taking actions contrary to the reliefs granted.

“We are aware of the total commitment of the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the rule of law and can say categorically that the leadership of the EFCC might have offered the agency on a platter of gold to desperate politicians to convert to their score settling tool without minding the effect on its integrity and the image of Nigeria as regards the rule of law.

“A situation where law enforcers disregard the rule of law is a definite recipe for anarchy, which will adversely affect every aspect of the nation’s economy.

“Nigerians have perceived the desperation of the anti-graft agency to embarrass and harass the former governor by all means through spurious allegations, especially the latest one dating back to September 2015, way before he assumed office.

“We are aware that there are clandestine moves to correct the error, but with even more questionable allegations, which would embarrass the Commission and Nigeria more than the initial one.

“It is unfortunate that an agency that is supposed to enforce the law is now the first culprit with respect to disobedience of court orders.

“This is a big dent on the fight against corruption. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands.

“We call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call the EFCC to order in the interest of legal sanity.”

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