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Opinion

Yahaya Bello will not escape justice, not under my watch – EFCC Chair

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman, Mr. Olukoyede, emphasised Tuesday that the anti-graft organisation will use every effort to hold the recently ousted Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, accountable for his term in office.

During a media briefing in Abuja, Olukoyede stated that Yahaya Bello was trying to avoid going to trial by engaging in petty financial mismanagement, one of which was sending money from Kogi State through Bureau D’change vendors.

According to the head of the EFCC, Bello once ordered his cousin to transfer $750,000 to a BDC so that his child’s international school fees could be paid in advance.

According to him, the agency was about to arrest Bello last week, but a governor and thirty armed police officers stopped them. The agency had planned to arrest Bello as early as January of this year, but they waited to get a warrant of arrest from the Federal High Court.

Olukoyede stated that even though the EFCC had fifty armed agents who were ready to engage the Bello’s House police officers, they chose to proceed cautiously in order to prevent further harm.

But he promised that everyone who helped Bello evade capture last week will be found out and dealt with accordingly.

Olukoyede said: “We have not violated any law regarding Yahaya Bello. Indeed, we have obeyed the judgment of the Kogi High Court, which ordered EFCC to produce and charge Yahaya Bello before FHC. It didn’t stop us from not prosecuting him.

“I invited Bello for an interview in my office but he refused and asked us to come to his village to talk to him.

He did so many things with Kogi’s money but does not want to come to court to clear his name and that is quite unfortunate.

”In one particular case, he used his cousin to move $751,000 to pay his child’s school fees in advance through BDC. We don’t need him to give evidence before charging him in court.

But he has refused to go to court to answer the charges.

“The FHC gave us a warrant of arrest to bring Yahaya Bello to court. Let me say that everyone who aided and abetted Yahaya Bello to escape will face trial, including those with immunity.

“We would have moved against Yahaya Bello as early as January this year but we needed to get the WoA. We met over 30 armed policemen. We would have exchanged fire and there would have been casualties but we decided to exercise caution. We will get Yahaya Bello to face justice no matter how long it takes.’

On the economy, Olukoyede revealed that the commission had recently frozen no fewer than 300 accounts of illicit financial agencies being used to undermine the Nigerian currency and destabilise the economy.

“We froze 300 accounts in illicit forex trading and discovered that one of those guys traded with N50 billion,” the chairman added.

Responding to a question on the arrest of the former Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, Olukoyede said he would neither confirm nor deny the arrest but admitted that the EFCC had begun an investigation on the ministry’s operations and its officials.

He explained that the probe being carried out by the EFCC was not about Hadi Sirika alone but about activities of the aviation ministry under the previous administration.

‘We are investigating the Ministry of Aviation and the former minister. It is beyond him but about national interest.
“Yes, we are investigating it and will release what we might have found at the end of the day. We may charge some persons to court,” Olukoyede added.

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