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  • News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: April 21, 2024

Lawyer warns EFCC against using illegal methods on Yahaya Bello

Lawyer warns EFCC against using illegal methods on Yahaya Be

A lawyer, Jesutega Onokpasa has cautioned the EFCC not to go above the law in its efforts to arrest and prosecute Yahaya Bello, the former governor of Kogi, for suspected N80.2 billion fraud.

At a news conference in Abuja on Sunday, Onokpasa, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, encouraged the EFCC to first lift the existing court order preventing it from detaining and prosecuting Bello.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) named Bello for alleged money laundering worth N80.2 billion.

On Wednesday, the commission attempted but failed to arrest the former governor at his residence in Abuja.

According to him, Bello's declaration sought by the EFCC is therefore invalid unless the existing valid court order is vacated.

He criticized the EFCC's attempts to arrest Bello without dismissing the existing order from a court with coordinate jurisdiction as illegal.

He stated that the EFCC's current actions were more akin to tormenting Bello than seeking to punish him.

“The immediate past governor has been trending in the news in a manner that calls for great concern with a plethora of ramifications.

“Cutting across serious issues such as fundamental human rights, the rule of law, and then other matters of political significance.

“As far as we are aware, former governor Bello had obtained a court order restraining the EFCC from arresting, arraigning or prosecuting him.

`We state categorically that it was perfectly entitled in law to place reliance on the protection of the law. Indeed, the same law which binds absolutely all of us in a civilized society.

“The motto of the EFCC is that no one is above the law. Well, that starts with the EFCC itself, which is certainly not and cannot possibly be above the law.

“The remedy against an order of court is to vacate the order or to appeal the same, and most certainly not for law enforcement to thump its nose at the court and decompose into lawlessness and brigandage,’’ he said.

Onokpasa said that the departure of Bello's security personnel was also unconstitutional, putting him in grave political danger.

He said that as a previous governor, Bello was entitled to security personnel for protection and stated that the former governor's troubles at the hands of the EFCC were politically motivated by his perceived adversaries.

“We unequivocally condemn this witch-hunt against a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a former governor of one of the states of this country,’’ he said.

Onokpasa said that while no one condones corruption, if there is a case of corruption against somebody, the prosecution should follow the law.

He urged all well-meaning Nigerians, including current and previous governors, to speak out against what he termed as a "utter travesty."

“Today it may be the turn of Bello. Well, tomorrow it might be the turn of any one of us,’’ he said.

Responding to questioning from the media, Onokpasa stated that the narrative that Bello was fleeing prosecution was false.

He noted that Bello has the right to seek court protection to defend his human rights.

According to him, since Bello has a valid court order prohibiting the EFCC from detaining or prosecuting him, the commission's sole option was to return to court and revoke that order.

He stated that even as a law-abiding person, Bello should not comply with anyone attempting to break the law to arrest him.

“Even this order, I was reliably informed today that the court even mandated the EFCC to seek leave of the court of appeal before it can arrest or arraign Bello.

“We should not tolerate illegality in the name of enforcing the law under the guise of enforcing the law,’’ he said.

Asked if the action of Governor Usman Ododo of Kogi was not obstructing justice when he allegedly whisked away Bello from his Abuja residence from being arrested by EFCC operatives, Onokpasa said there was no evidence to that effect.

He said no one had valid evidence that Bello was in that house at that material time on that day, or that Ododo was in the said vehicle that entered Bello’s residence.

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