Money Laundering: Why EFCC Haunts Yahaya Bello

By Sueleiman Umaru

Yahaya Bello, a former governor of Kogi state, appears to have become a bad advertisement to Leadership in Nigeria. Many believe that the former Kogi state governor   would have thrown the country to ridicule if he had won the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential bid and proceeds a to win the February 25, 2023, Presidential election. This is because of the findings of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the Chairmanship of Ola Olukoyede, on him while still in office as the governor of the north central state. 

 The former Kogi state governor had picked the APC nomination and Expression of interest forms with the sum of N100 million in 2022, because he had the backing of the then President Muhammau Buhari to do so. He had alluded to the Presidential backing when he noted that picking the APC nomination and expressions of interest forms was a gesture in respect to Buhari’s support.

 The former Kogi state governor was said to have received the blessings of the former Nigerian President, whom he had described as his’’ godfather ahead of the February 25, 2023, Presidential election’’.

The likes of Rotimi Amaechi, a-one time governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation during the erstwhile President Buhari’s Administration, and also one of the Presidential Candidates of the APC, may have taken Bello to be a serious contender that he had asked him to step down for him during his Campaign in the state and wait for his time as a younger politician.

Bello: former Embattled governor of Kogi state

Barely one year out of office, Bello, the former Kogi state governor who ought to be enjoying his private life, has been hunted by the EFCC, over alleged mismanagement of the state funds as the anti-graft agency has threatened to arrest him.

 He may have known that there is no escape route for him through any of the nation’s international airports or land border areas because of the tight security that had been mounted by the Commission and other security agencies operatives.  Indeed, the former governor may have known that the game is up when Kayode Egbetokun, Inspector General of Police, IGP, took the bold initiative   to withdraw all the Police officers attached to him.

The immediate past governor of Kogi state had been declared wanted on April 18, 2024,  after he failed to show up at the a Federal High Court at the FCT, which was said to have stalled his judgment.  The Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, under the close watch of Kemi Nandap, may have made matters worse for the former  governor   as it had placed him   on its watch list after the EFCC Authorities had declared him wanted over alleged case of money laundering to the tune of N80.2 billion, equivalent of over $760,000.

Laolu Akande, a former Media Aide to the immediate Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who had expressed concerns  over the American International school, Abuja, AMISA’s acceptance  of  $760,000 which the Kogi state governor  had paid as    advance  fee  for his children school fees.

 He had said that that besides  the several other billions  of naira the immediate past governor of Kogi state was alleged to have stolen, the  EFCC   Authorities which  were said to have secured  a refund of  the over  $720,000 , that   paid as pre-paid advance school fees  for his own children , which was said to have been paid by  Ali Bello, his Nephew and who is currently the Chief  of Staff , CS, to Usman Ododo,  the current  state governor,  to the AISA, clearly shows the high level of  financial mismanagement  in the   Bello’s government.

The erstwhile  Kogi state governor may have known that there is no hiding place  for him any longer over the alleged  fraud as  the relevant  Agreement documents and payment receipts  have been  obtained by the EFCC from  AISA,   showing the details  of how   the former  governor   utilised the alleged state funds  ‘’to pay the  school  fees  of his children   and that of his pre-school child , Zyyan Ali Bello,  in advance  up to  2034/35.

The former governor will not take it. Ohiare Michael, who had isued a statement on behalf of the former Kogi state governor was said to have given out several detailed information regarding the payment of the school fees for his children to the AISA.

He had said that the payment of the advanced school fees to AISA was not effected at about the time the former Kogi state governor was about to leave office but had commenced since 2021.   He was emphatic that the former governor did not pay   the school fees of his children in the AISA, with funds from coffers of the state government as alleged by the EFCC, Chairman.

He had stated  that ‘’when  the anti-graft agency   approached he AISA, to allegedly recover the   funds legitimately  paid by the former governor  and other family members , a member of the family had challenged  the Commission’s unlawful acts ’’. He noted that  the former  governor’s children   had entered the AISA,  well before he became  the Kogi state governor  and that he has  paid  the school fees of the children  as and when due  without fail.

Given the Drama that had prevailed over his continued hiding, informed sources told The Value News that there had been intense pressure from both official and unofficial quarters on him to surrender to the EFCC and save himself, further embarrassment.

  Lateef Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation may have given insight on the position of the Federal Government on the former Kogi state governor’s problem with the EFCC, when he asked him to surrender to the Commission, on Thursday, April 25, 2024, stressing that ‘’the agency cannot be obstructed from performing its Legitimate duty’’.

The minister was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that nobody is above the law,   as the anti by the anti-graft agency   has been given the Constitutional powers ‘’to invite any person of interest  to interact with them  in  the course  of  their investigations  into any matter’’.

 Aware that former governor has been declared wanted  by the EFCC,  Bayo Onanuga,  Special Adviser to President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Media and Publicity,  was said to have  asked ‘’  Bello  to come out of hiding and surrender to the EFCC  and then get a good Lawyer  to defend himself’’.  

The Media Aide to the Nigerian President was said to have made it clear to the former Kogi state governor that he has nowhere to run to?   Because of the tight security that had been mounted by the EFCC, NIS and other security and intelligence agencies operatives at the nation’s Land borders and airports to forestall his escape.

The EFCC Operatives were aid to have  laid a siege on the   former Gov. Bello’s, Abuja residence on April 17,2024,   with the intention arrest him  but were not lucky.   Ododo, the former governor’s political ally and successor in office, according to an eyewitness account had stormed the location and whisked him away to an unknown destination.

Determined to arrest the former governor to face the full weight of the Law, there are indications that the anti-graft agency may engage the services of the military to fish out the former governor out of his hiding place over the last couple of weeks.    

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