Yahaya Bello used Kogi’s $720,000 for child’s tuition – EFCC chair

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Yahaya Bello.THE Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, claimed on Tuesday that investigation by the anti-graft agency revealed that the embattled former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, withdrew $720,000 from the state’s coffers to pay his child’s school fees.

The EFCC Chairman said he had personally put a call through to Bello, inviting him to clear the air on the issues but he refused to honour invitations.

Olukoyede spoke with editors, Bureau Chiefs, and media executives at the  EFCC Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, on Tuesday, amid the raging controversy and counter-claims between the EFCC and the ex-governor.

Bello is insisting that the attempt by the EFCC to arrest and prosecute him for an alleged N80.2bn fraud was in violation of a February 6 order of the Federal High Court in Lokoja restraining the anti-graft agency.

He noted that though the EFCC had appealed the order, he could not be arrested or arraigned until the order had been lifted.

Following a failed attempt to arrest him in his Abuja residence last week Wednesday and the ex-governor’s absence from the Federal High Court where he was scheduled to be arraigned last Thursday, the EFCC declared him wanted.

Also, the Nigerian Immigration Service placed him on watchlist.

He has been in hiding since.

On Tuesday, some youths in Kogi State protested the move by the EFCC against Bello.

The protesting youths barricaded the popular Lokoja-Abuja Road, causing a gridlock on the highway.

But addressing journalists on Tuesday, the EFCC chairman said the anti-graft agency’s move against Bello was constitutional, given the alleged fraud uncovered against him.

Olukoyede said, “A sitting governor, because he knew he was going, removed money directly from the government’s account (and sent) to Bureau de Change, and used it to pay his child’s school fee in advance.

“Dollars –  $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the government house.”

Olukoyede said when the alleged fraud was uncovered by the EFCC, he invited Bello for a talk, but he rebuffed the call.

“I called Yahaya Bello, as a serving governor, to come to my office to clear himself. I shouldn’t have done that. But he said because a certain senator had planted over 100 journalists in my office, he would not come.

“I told him that he would be allowed to use my private gate to give him a cover, but he said my men should come to his village to interrogate him.”

Olukoyede insisted that the EFCC did not violate any law by trying to arrest the former governor at his residence.

“Rather, we have obeyed the law. I inherited the case and I didn’t create it. Why has he not submitted himself to the law?” he asked.

The EFCC chairman said anyone obstructing Bello’s arrest would have the law to contend with.

Olukoyede said, “I have arraigned two past governors who have been granted bail now – Willie Obiano and Abdulfatah Ahmed.

“If I can do Obiano, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Chief Olu Agunloye, my kinsman, why not Yahaya Bello?” Olukoyede said.

Speaking on the siege laid to Bello’s Abuja home last Wednesday, the EFCC chairman said, “We would have gone after him since January but we waited for the court order.

“As early as 7 am, my men were there, over 50 of them. They mounted surveillance. We met over 30 armed policemen there. We would have exchanged fire and there would have been casualties.

“My men were about to move in when the Governor of Kogi State drove in and they later changed the narrative.”

Olukoyede vowed that all those who had dipped their hands into the nation’s coffers would be investigated and prosecuted.

He, thereafter, vowed to resign as EFCC chairman if the embattled  Bello was not prosecuted.

Meanwhile,   the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned till May 10 to rule on Bello’s request to have the arrest warrant issued against him lifted.

His lawyer, Mr Adeola Adedipe (SAN), said Bello would have been in court on Tuesday for his rescheduled but for the arrest warrant.

He, therefore, urged Justice Emeka Nwite to set aside the arrest warrant, insisting that the EFCC obtained it in breach of the law.

But the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), opposed the application, saying Bello had no right to seek any prayer from a court before whom he had failed to appear.

Pinheiro said were Bello to come out of his hiding and show up, he would personally pray the court to lift the arrest warrant.

Pinheiro said, “As his prosecutor, I will personally apply that the arrest warrant be set aside if he comes to court the next adjourned date.

“If he (Adedipe) gives an undertaking that his client will be in court on the next date, I can assure him that the arrest warrant will not be executed.”

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