Bello vs EFCC: Media office tackles opinionated Nigerians

Bello

The media office of the former Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, has said the court was yet to prove the allegations made against the embattled former governor by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by Bello’s media office director, Ohiare Michael, on Friday, adding that the former governor did not pay the fees of his children with monies from the coffers of the Kogi State Government.

On Tuesday, the Chairman of the EFCC at a press conference, alleged that Bello withdrew $720,000 from a government account to pay his children’s school fees in advance.

Following the press conferences receipts of payments of the said fees bearing the names of Bello’s children and those of other family members, who separately paid their fees, have gone viral on social media.

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However, his media office, said Bello’s children attended the American International School, Abuja before he became Governor “and he has paid fees for his children as of when due and without fail.”

It further stated that the documents published online have been filed by his lawyers and suggest that Bello has nothing to hide about the payment of advance fees for his children.

The statement read, “This unending harassment and persecution, even while in office, were among the key reasons he sought to enforce his fundamental human rights.

“We state that the payment of these fees and the legitimacy thereof is the subject matter of charge No. FHC/CR/573/2022, filed by the EFCC on 15th December 2022 at the Federal High Court, Abuja. The charge is pending and the court has yet to make any finding or convict anyone in respect of the said sum.

“It is imperative to remind Mr Olukoyede, who is a lawyer, that once parties have submitted a dispute to the court, they are to shun all actions and statements that may prejudice the hearing of the matter or the mind of the court.

“Since the matter is sub judice, we say no more, we await the EFCC’s proof of the allegations in court, which is the only venue where the proof of these allegations matters.”

The statement added, “His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello did not pay the sum of USD720,000 as alleged by the EFCC Chairman or USD840,000 as is being bandied about on the internet.

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“The payment of the fees was not effected at about the time his Excellency was to leave office as claimed by Mr Olukoyede but same commenced in 2021.

“Alhaji Yahaya Bello did not pay the fees of his children with monies from the Coffers of the Kogi State Government. When the EFCC approached the American International School Abuja to illegally recover funds legitimately paid by Alhaji Yahaya Bello and other family members, a member of the family challenged the EFCC’s unlawful acts to recover funds legitimately paid.”

Citing a court suit, the statement added, “The court subsequently mandated AISA to continue to provide the services it had been paid concerning the fees. From the foregoing, it is clear that no money belonging to Alhaji Yahaya Bello or his family members about school fees has been recovered by the EFCC.

“Now, let it be known that contrary to misleading narratives by the EFCC, all the documents published online i.e. receipts and letters, that the EFCC has released online, in furtherance of its unrelenting persecution of the former Governor, are documents filed by lawyers in the suit instituted on behalf of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and others who paid fees for their wards under the Advance Fee Payment Agreement with AISA.”

Bello’s media office noted that their principal does not visit law enforcement agencies “through the backdoor” and has insisted on “following due process in line with the rule of law. No amount of blackmail will intimidate him.”

Meanwhile, a Kogi High Court sitting in Lokoja on Friday mandated the Chairman of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, to appear before it on May 13 to show why he should not be sanctioned for allegedly disobeying its order.

Justice I.A. Jamil of High Court IV gave the order while ruling in Suit No: HCL/68M/2024 and Motion No: HCL/190M/2024, filed before him by ex-Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi in Lokoja.

The Punch reports that the EFCC boss is facing a contempt charge for allegedly carrying out “some acts upon which they (the EFCC) have been restrained” by the court on February 9, pending the determination of the substantive originating motion.

Recall that EFCC operatives on April 17 laid siege to the residence of the former governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, in a bid to arrest him, in spite of a court order restraining them from taking such action, pending the determination of the originating motion.

Justice Jamil based his order on a motion ex-parte, filed by Yahaya Bello through his lawyer, M.S. Yusuf.

Punch