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Appeal Court fails to hear EFCC suit against order restraining Yahaya Bello’s arrest

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday did not sit to hear the appeal lodged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the order of a Kogi High Court which restrained the anti-graft agency from arresting the immediate-past governor, Yahaya Bello.

The Kogi court, in a ruling on April 17, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello. The judge, I.A. Jamil, gave the order in a two-hour judgment delivered in Suit No. HCL/68/M/2020 in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, on Wednesday.

The judgment coincided with the ”siege invasion” of Bello’s home in Abuja by EFCC operatives in a bid to arrest him.

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

The anti-graft agency determined to get Bello to face the law for his alleged crime, approached the Federal High Court in Abuja on the same day to get an arrest warrant.

.The warrant was issued following an ex parte motion filed by the EFCC.

In his ruling on the motion, Justice Emeka Nwite also directed that the former governor be produced before him on Thursday, April 18, for arraignment.

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He said, “It is hereby ordered as follows:

That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing and/or issuing a warrant for the immediate arrest of the defendant to bring him before this honourable court for arraignment.

“That case is adjourned until April 18 for arraignment.”

Alhough Bello was absent to take his plea, his team of lawyers, led by 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, Kemi Pinehero, argued that court could go ahead with the trial.

The EFCC, in its appeal through its solicitor, J.S. Okutepa (SAN), 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.

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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.(NAN)

Wandoo Sombo
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