Submit Yourself to EFCC, AGF tells Yahaya Bello

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The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), has described as “insufferably disquieting”, the obstruction to the arrest of former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, by his successor, Usman Ododo.

In a statement on Thursday, the AGF said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should not be obstructed from carrying out its lawful duties.

“A situation where public officials who are themselves subject of protection by law enforcement agents will set up a stratagem of obstruction to the civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty is to say the least, insufferably disquieting,” Fagbemi said in the statement he personally signed.

“A flight from the law does not resolve issues at stake but only exacerbates it.

“I state unequivocally that I stand for the rule of law and will promptly call EFCC and indeed any other agency to order when there is indication of any transgression of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian by any of the agencies but I also tenaciously hold the view that institutions of State should be allowed to function effectively and efficiently.”

Bello served as the governor of the North Central state from January 27, 2016 to January 27, 2024, when he handed over to his fellow party man in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Usman Ododo.

EFCC operatives besieged Bello’s Abuja residence in the Wuse area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday with an attempt to arrest the ex-governor for possible arraignment for alleged N84bn money laundering on Thursday.

However, after hours of laying siege to Bello’s residence, his successor stormed the house and “whisked away” his principal, creating an atmosphere of chaos which the anti-graft agency officially condemned as an attempt to frustrate its operations.

Bello’s Media Office has since faulted the anti-graft agency and described as a “witch-hunt”, the charges against the immediate past governor, and urged President Bola Tinubu to call the EFCC to order.

Bello was absent in court on Thursday and Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja adjourned the suit to April 23, 2024. EFCC lawyer, Kemi Phinro, told the court that the anti-graft agency might seek the help of the military to fish Bello out to come face his arraignment.

In his statement, the AGF described as a “bizarre drama”, the episode confronting the anti-graft agency.

“It is now beyond doubt that the EFCC is given power by the law to invite any person of interest to interact with them in the course of their investigation into any matter regardless of status.

“Therefore, the least that we can all do when invited, is not to put any obstruction in the way of EFCC but to honourably answer their invitation,” Fagbemi stated.

The justice minister condemned a situation where a public official (the governor) protected by law enforcement agents would obstruct “civil and commendable efforts of the EFCC to perform its duty”.

“Nigeria has a vibrant judicial system that is capable of protecting everyone who follows the rule of law in seeking protection.

“I therefore encourage anyone who has been invited by the EFCC or any other agency to immediately toe the path of decency and civility by honouring such invitation instead of embarking on a temporising self-help and escapism that can only put our country in bad light before the rest of the world,” the AGF concluded.

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