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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Yahaya Bello prepares to submit self to “federal might”, spotted around top presidency, security chiefs

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Videos of former Kogi Stae governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello, have flooded the social media, even as he prepares to submit himself this week to “relevant agencies”, after an alleged visit to a top gun in the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), and a top official in the Office of the Vice President, in a bid to get soft landing.

His exact mode of “surrender” was not known at press time, but a source in the know suggested it may not be as dramatic as the manner he was whisked away from his residence in Abuja by his cousin and sitting governor, Usman Ododo.

Ododo is allegedly said to be making frantic efforts to distance himself, and not be seen to have “slapped” the “Governor” of Abuja, who ceded his powers to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has made it clear that Ododo facilitated the “escape” of Bello, when its agents came to arrest him last Wednesday.

There were reports he brought the former governor back to Abuja to reverse his action; but details of what negated the planned move on Friday were still foggy.

Among some of the videos and pictures making the rounds is an old one of Bello exercising in a fitness room, dancing to local Ebira music.

One showed him in a private jet, allegedly on his way to Lagos with his protege, Governor Ododo, to pay homage to President Tinubu.

Apparently, videos he made in his heady and heydays are now been used to taunt him, including one of him mocking the President in a flowing robe.

One particular photo that has gained traction showed a chicken with a lion’s head, evidently mocking him, who claims to be a white lion, scurrying around like a chicken..

Everyday.ng reports that the Kogi State Governor was working on how to bring him to Abuja to hand him over.

“This is coming after the FG threatened to sanction the governor for abuse of power, aiding and abetting of a criminal,” a source volunteered in a message on Friday.

The EFCC had Thursday declared Bello wanted, while the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) made public information putting security services at the nation’s ports on alert, should Bello try to flee the country.

In addition, the Police Inspector-General, Kayode Egbetokun, ordered the withdrawal of policemen attached to the former governor.

Many security personnel were also allegedly arrested and are still being questioned over the embarrassing situation last Wednesday.

Recall that the absence of the former governor on Thursday stalled his arraignment before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court.

He was slated for arraignment  by the EFCC alongside Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalam Hudu on 19-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N80, 246, 470,089.88k (Eight Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eighty-Nine Naira, Eighty-Eighty Kobo).

According to the anti-graft agency Bello, and two others: Ali Bello, Dauda Suliman, and Abdulsalam Hudu (Still at large), sometime, in February, 2016, in Abuja conspired to convert the total sum of N80, 246,470, 088.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty Six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand and Eight Nine Naira,  Eighty Eight Kobo), belonging to the state government to personal use

Also, Bello was accused of aiding  E-Traders International Limited to conceal an aggregate sum of  N3,081,804,654.00 (Three Billion, Eighty One Million Eight Hundred and Four Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty Four Naira) in account number 1451458080 domiciled in Access Bank Plc.

On another count, Bello was said to have sometime in November 2021 in Abuja indirectly procured E-Traders International Limited to transfer  the aggregate sum of $570,330.00 (Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand , Three Hundred and Thirty Dollars) to account number 4266644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America

The EFCC said the former governor  “reasonably ought to have known (the sums) form part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit, criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) (d) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

Bello’s botched arraignment  came on the heels of his warrant of arrest granted the EFCC by the court on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) regretted that a lawful attempt to serve the defendant the charges, along with a court order of arrest was botched “by a person of immunity, who came and whisked him away in his car,” noting that by virtue of Section 287 of the constitution all persons are obliged to obey a court order. Also, Section 12 of ACJA,  he said,  allowed law enforcement agencies to break down premises to bring unwilling defendants to justice.

Pinheiro assured that “The state will invoke all its powers within the law to ensure that the defendant is produced in court. The state will ensure that he is produced in court for the purpose of arraignment, and it is in his own interest so that he can take his plea”.

Following Bello’s absence, Pinheiro sought leave of the court to serve him the charges through his counsel,  Abdulwahab Muhammed (SAN). Muhammed, however, declined saying that he did not have the authority of his client to accept the charges. 

Muhammed further argued that his client cannot be arraigned in court until EFCC’s appeal against an order of the High Court, restraining the Commission from arresting, detaining and prosecuting him is determined and also until the determination of his client’s preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of Justice Nwite’s court to entertain his trial.

Pinheiro, however, submitted that it was legal and constitutional to serve the defendant through his lawyer, especially as the defence counsel introduced himself in court unconditionally and without limitations as the representative of the defendant.

“Having introduced himself unconditionally as the representative of the defendant, my learned colleague knows that he cannot be a defence counsel for arraignment and not for bail. If he is served the charges on behalf of the defendant, if he likes he can now advise his client to stay permanently away from the court,” he said.

The judge adjourned the matter till Tuesday, April 23, 2024, for ruling as to whether the prosecution can serve the defendant through his lawyer for arraignment

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