Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kogi attacks EFCC over corruption N80bn fraud allegation against ex-gov Bello

Mr Fanwo stated that in the EFCC’s desperation to nail Mr Yahaya Bello, the commission forgot its thinking hammer at home.

• February 7, 2024
Governor Yahaya Bello
Yahaya Bello

The Kogi State Government has launched an attack against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over its criminal charges against the immediate past governor of the state, Yahaya Bello.

The anti-graft agency accused the ex-governor of corruption to the tune of N80bn. 

Mr Bello vacated office on January 27, having spent two terms in office between January 26, 2016, and January 27, 2024. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the state Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, accused the EFCC of amending a criminal charge against Mr Bello and accused him of diverting public funds. 

The state government while describing the EFCC charges against Mr Bello as laughable, also accused the commission of alleging that Mr Bello was involved in the diversion of the state funds to the tune of N80 billion in September 2015. 

It said the EFCC as a government agency is infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of President Bola Tinubu to defeat corruption in Nigeria.

“The fact that the EFCC, in charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/550/2022: FRN V. 1. Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, currently pending before Honourable Justice J.K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division further amended the ‘Amended Charge’ to include in the count, the name of H.E Yahaya Bello, describing him as being “at large,” is ridiculous, laughable and portrays the EFCC as an agency infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of Mr President to defeat corruption in Nigeria,” the statement read. 

“For the sake of clarity, the original charge is against Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman, Ali’s associate. The offence which H.E Yahaya Bello is alleged to have committed upon which he has been named in the count is conspiracy to convert the total sum of N80,246,470,089.88 (Eighty billion, two hundred and forty six million, four hundred and seventy thousand, eighty nine naira, eighty eight kobo) which offence is said to have occurred on or about September 2015 in Abuja. 

“His co-conspirators according to the count are Abdulsalami Hudu (Kogi State Government House Cashier) described as being ‘at large’ too, Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman.’’

The government also disagreed with the commission stating that the alleged offence “on or about September 2015 in Abuja,” given that the outgoing governor had not yet taken the oath of office and could not have converted the purported amount from the government house. 

 It further stated that before becoming Kogi State’s governor, Mr Bello had no financial relationships with the government that would have allowed him to transfer funds owned by the Kogi State Government.

“In the EFCC’s desperation to nail H.E Yahaya Bello, they forgot their thinking hammer at home. The count of the offence is most laughable as the election that produced H.E Yahaya Bello, CON, as Governor of Kogi was only conducted in November 2015.

 “Indeed, H.E. Captain Idris Wada of the PDP held sway as Governor of Kogi State at the material time until he handed over to H.E Yahaya Bello on January 27, 2016.

 “H.E Yahaya Bello could therefore not have as of September 2015 conspired with anyone, including Abdulsalami Hudu, a Kogi Government House cashier, to convert any money belonging to the Kogi State Government.

 “It is to be noted that H.E Yahaya Bello before becoming the Governor of Kogi State had no financial dealings with the Kogi State Government which could have permitted him to convert monies belonging to the Kogi State Government, hence, one’s dismay at the allegation. 

“The state government warned political actors to steer clear of Kogi State affairs and desist from their campaign of calumny “as the state government has not said its money is missing, and has been adjudged, both locally and internationally, as top in the area of transparency and accountability.”

The Kogi State government had in the past been at loggerheads especially during the administration of erstwhile chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa.

The EFCC had arraigned Mr Bello’s nephew, Ali Bello for allegedly laundering N10 billion belonging to the Kogi State before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In his reaction, Mr Fanwo who had served in the former state government administrations as the commissioner for information accused the commission of witch-hunting and engaging in media trail.

In the same vein, the Kogi State Government was also accused by the EFCC in 2021 of hoarding a N20 billion bailout fund intended for employee salary in a commercial bank for the purpose of earning interest. The accusation was refuted by the Kogi administration. 

In the meantime, the EFCC stated in a letter dated November 9 that the CBN notified Mr Bawa of the acknowledgement receipt of the funds it had received.

According to the letter, the money was returned in accordance with a court ruling that ordered the Kogi State Salary Bailout account to be unfrozen so that Sterling Bank could send the account’s remaining amount to the CBN.

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