From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

A coalition under the auspices of the Anti-Corruption and Research-based Data Initiative (ARDI) has urged the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to follow due process to prosecute the immediate past governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello.

Bello, currently under investigation over alleged embezzlement of a staggering sum of N80.2 billion, has been on the wanted list of the anti-corruption agency.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the Coordinator of the Coalition, John Ozigbo, expressed concerns over the current impasse between the anti-graft agency and Bello, which resulted in the raid in his private residence in Abuja.

Ozigbo emphasised the need for both parties to work within the ambit of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to avoid subjecting the war on corruption in this country to further odium in the eyes of right-thinking people.

The coalition further noted that the anti-graft agency, according to their independent investigation, has not extended to Bello the customary investigation to visit her offices to assist her in any investigations.

ARDI argued that it could not also find evidence anywhere the Commission has asserted it extended such an invitation to him.

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“The Commission usually sends an invitation letter, and often several reminders, to a respondent in any petition before even seeking warrants of arrest, and certainly long before taking drastic actions like the raid it conducted last Thursday. The attempt by officers of the EFCC to arrest Yahaya Bello is in flagrant disregard of a subsisting court order that comprehensively bars her from doing so based on a determination that their actions in the entire circumstances of the case amount to actual and threatened breach of sundry of his fundamental human rights

“The EFCC is currently at the Appeal Court to challenge that subsisting order of the High Court of Kogi State and the Appellate Court has insisted that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of the appeal. We are convinced that the EFCC has breached both the principles of the sanctity of court orders and the pendency of suits by her subsequent actions.

“This informs our conclusion that the EFCC’s raid on Yahaya Bello’s residence in Abuja last week, is in disobedience of subsisting orders of courts and practice procedure, making it both regrettable and an aberration under the Rule of Law,” ARDI argued.

The coalition further recalled that EFCC under the leadership of Abdul Rasheed Bawa had previously accused Bello of hiding the sum of N20 billion being bail-out money due to Kogi State in a Sterling Bank account and for his own aggrandizement and personal enrichment

It claimed that; “from 2022 when it first became breaking news at the instance of the EFCC till today, the agency could not substantiate that particular allegation against Bello in any court of law with the same energy with which it tried and found him guilty of it in the media.”

ARDI equally insisted that; “as it is, those allegations seem to have evaporated with the exit of Bawa as chairman while new allegations have surfaced under the newest leadership.

The inconsistencies in the allegations by the EFCC against Bello clearly show that the allegations lack substance.”