The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello with corruption, just days after he was removed from office and stripped of his constitutional immunity, which protected him from prosecution.
After eight years in office, Mr Bello handed over his duties to his successor, Usman Ododo, on January 27 and was prosecuted by the EFCC a few days later.
The anti-graft agency did not bother filing a new case in court. It simply updated existing allegations in which his nephew and an associate were accused of diverting Kogi State finances, adding the former governor as a co-defendant along with a few more counts.
In a statement criticizing Mr Bello’s charges, Kogi State Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, said the matter marked FHC/ABJ/CR/550/2022 had been before Judge James Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Until the most recent revision, which added Mr Bello as a co-defendant, the only defendants on record were his nephew, Ali Bello, and his associate, Dauda Suleiman.
In the modified complaint, Mr Bello was accused of converting N80.2 billion (N80,246,470,089.88) belonging to the Kogi State Government for personal benefit. Abdulsalami Hud, a suspected co-conspirator and Kogi State Government House Cashier, is said to be at large. The other two are his co-defendants: Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman.
Mr Fanwo, who served in the recently concluded Bello administration, said that the count falsely suggested that the violation occurred around September 2015, when Mr Bello had yet to take office.
He further stated that the count showed that Mr Bello was “at large”.
This, he said, “is ridiculous, laughable and portrays the EFCC as an agency infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of Mr. President to defeat corruption in Nigeria.”
“Being ‘at large’ of course means that a person is evading arrest or is on the run and cannot be found after an attempt to arrest,” the statement went on to say.
“In the EFCC’s desperation to nail H.E Yahaya Bello, they forgot their thinking hammer at home.”