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My next plan of action if I failed to prosecute Yahaya Bello – EFCC Chairman

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My next plan of action if I failed to prosecute Yahaya Bello – EFCC Chairman

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, has revealed his next action plan if he fails to prosecute former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello.

While swearing to pursue the prosecution of the former Governor to a logical end, the anti-graft agency Chairman vowed to resign as EFCC Chairman if Bello is not prosecuted.

Olukoyede disclosed this in a chat with journalists at the EFCC Headquarters in the Jabi area of Abuja on Tuesday.

He vowed that all those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to book.

The EFCC is seeking to prosecute Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to N80.2 billion.

The chairman said that no matter what anyone does or the amount of attack against the anti-graft agency, he and his men will not relent in helping to sanitize the country.

This followed a Tuesday order by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja after Bello’s absence in court.

He was absent from court for his arraignment on a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering to the tune of ₦80bn.

The judge relied on section 384 (4 and 5) of the Administrative and Criminal Justice Act 2015, directing the counsel to the immediate past governor to receive a copy of the charge.

The court held that where it had become impossible to effect personal service of a legal process on a defendant, such could be done through substituted means.

Justice Nwite further held that it was clear that the former governor failed to appear in court for his arraignment.

Although Bello’s lawyer, Mohammed, initially declined to accept the charges and proof of evidence, he was compelled to do so by Justice Nwite.

The judge rejected the plea by the senior lawyer that a junior lawyer in his team, AI Musa, be the one to accept the charges on behalf of the former governor.

A member of the legal team for Bello, Adedayo Adedipe, told the court that his client would have made himself available, but was afraid of being of a lack of fair hearing and justice.

He added that Bello was ready to appear before the court to answer the 19-count charge preferred against him by the EFCC.

Adedipe urged the court to set aside the ex-parte order of arrest it had earlier issued against the former governor, saying that at the time the order of arrest was made, the charge had not been served on his client.

Also, Bello had argued that the EFCC was an illegal organisation. According to him, the Federal Government did not consult the 36 states of the federation before enacting the EFCC Act through the National Assembly. He added that section 12 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, required the various Houses of Assembly to ratify the act before it could become operative.

Counsel to the EFCC, Kemi Phinheiro, however, urged the court to dismiss the application, insisting that the warrant of arrest should not be set aside until the defendant makes himself available for trial. He argued that Bello did not have the legal ground to file numerous applications while in hiding.

Justice Nwite had last week issued a bench warrant against Bello following an application to that effect by EFCC.

The EFCC subsequently declared the former governor wanted for his persistent absence in court and for evading the criminal charges against him, later on, the Nigerian Immigration Service placed Bello on watchlist to stop him from fleeing the country through any available border.

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