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Alleged N80.2bn Fraud: EFCC withdraws appeal against ex-Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has filed a notice of withdrawal to discontinue an appeal against an order of a Kogi high court restraining the agency from arresting Yahaya Bello, former governor of the state.

In the notice filed on April 22, and signed by its counsel, J.S Okutepa, SAN, the EFCC said the withdrawal is predicated on the fact that events have overtaken the appeal.

The commission also admitted that the appeal was filed out of the time allowed by law.

“The appellant herein intends to and do hereby wholly withdraw her appeal against the respondent in the above-mentioned appeal.

“This notice of withdrawal is predicated on the fact that; on April 17, 2024, the application filed by the appellant herein was overtaken by the decision of the same high court of Kogi state,”

“The orders made ex parte by Jamil on the February 9, 2024 in the said suit which is the subject of this appeal, was made to last pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion on notice which was finally determined by Jamil J. on the April 17, 2024.

“Furthermore, the notice of appeal was filed out of time and we, therefore, pray that the appeal be struck out for being filed out of time and incompetent” he stated.

On Feb 8, Bello instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to declare that “the incessant harassment, threats of arrest and detention, negative press releases, malicious prosecution” of the EFCC — “without any formal invitation — is politically motivated and interference with his right to liberty, freedom of movement, and fair hearing”.

The former governor also sought an order “restraining the respondent by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain him”.

On February 9, the Kogi high court granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from “continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, detain, prosecute Bello, his former appointees, and his staff or family members, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion for the enforcement of his fundamental rights”.

On March 12, the EFCC filed an appeal against the interim injunction because the court could not stop the commission from carrying out its statutory responsibility.

The Kogi High Court delivered judgment on the substantive motion on notice on April 17 wherein Isa Jamil Abdullahi, presiding judge, granted an order restraining the EFCC “from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain Bello”.

However, Abdullahi directed the commission to file a charge against Bello before an appropriate court if it had reasons to do so.

The judgment coincided with the recent “siege” laid on the Abuja residence of  Bello by EFCC operatives seeking to arrest him.

The commission had also obtained a warrant of arrest against the former governor from the Abuja federal high court.

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

At the scheduled arraignment on April 18, Bello was absent.

At the court session, Abdulwahab Mohammed, counsel to Bello, told  Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the warrant of arrest in the first instance.

He referenced the February 9 interim injunction issued by the Kogi high court, adding that the appeal filed by the EFCC is still pending.

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