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Appeal Court hears EFCC appeal against Yahaya Bello’s arrest today

The Court of Appeal in Abuja is set to hear today (Monday) the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the order of a Kogi State High Court, which restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting the immediate-past governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.

In a ruling on February 9, 2024, the Kogi court restrained the EFCC from “inviting, arresting, detaining, prosecuting” Bello pending the determination of a fundamental rights suit he filed before the court.

The anti-graft agency is seeking to arraign the ex-governor on 19 counts bordering on money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

Determined to bring Bello to face the law for his alleged crime, the EFCC approached the Federal High Court in Abuja last Wednesday to obtain an arrest warrant while the Federal High Court in Kogi was delivering judgment on Bello’s fundamental human rights suit.

With the arrest warrant, the EFCC visited Bello’s Abuja home with hopes of arresting him but failed. Consequently, the former governor was unable to be arraigned the next day in court, leading Justice Nwite to adjourn for arraignment and ruling until Tuesday, April 23. Although Bello was absent to take his plea, his team of lawyers, led by Mr. Abdulwahab Mohammed (SAN), informed the court of the matter before the appeal court.

Mohammed told the court that it was wrong for the EFCC to apply for an arrest warrant against Bello when the same matter was already before the appeal court. The EFCC counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinehero, argued that the court could proceed with the trial.

In its appeal through its solicitor, J.S. Okutepa (SAN), the EFCC is seeking a stay of execution to the order of the trial court in Kogi State.

In the appeal marked CA/ABJ/PRE/RDA/CV/165MI, the anti-graft agency contested the court order on the grounds that it is a body created by statute to carry out functions specified in its Establishment Act and empowered to investigate and prosecute economic crimes as set out under sections 6 and 7 of the EFCC Act. The EFCC faulted the order of the lower court, describing it as an obstruction.

“The orders granted ex parte on the 9th of February 2024 constitute a clog in the progress of the appellant/applicant’s performance of its statutory functions and duties under the EFCC Act 2004,” the EFCC said.

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