From Sola Ojo, Kaduna

Groups, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, and the Yoruba Youth Council on Saturday urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to tread softly by way of respecting the subsisting court order restraining it from arresting the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello over alleged N80.2 billion money laundering.

The anti-graft agency had attempted to arrest Bello in Kogi a few days but failed and thereafter declared him wanted., a development Bello’s media handlers noted to have been in contrast to an order of the Kogi State High Court, which granted an injunction against the commission on February 9, 2024, by the Kogi State High Court of Justice, Lokoja Division, in Suit No. HCL/68M/2024.

That court order restrained the Commission either by itself or its agents from harassing, arresting, detaining, or prosecuting him, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive fundamental rights enforcement action.

However, the EFCC is said to have appealed the order in Appeal No.: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024, with the matter adjourned to the 22nd day of April 2024.

However, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Ohaneaze Ndigbo Youth Council, Mr Chimaobi Ezejiofor, and the President of the Yoruba Youth Council, Comrade Eric Oluwole in separate statements expressed curiousness as to why the EFCC could not wait to exhaust the legal opportunities before clamping down on Bello.

Ezejiofor said government agencies should be at the forefront of respect to the rule of law, stressing that “having submitted itself to the courts by filing an appeal as well a stay of execution, one had expected that the EFCC should respect the res, but in this case, it chose to take laws into its hands.

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The groups urged the commission to respect the sanctity of the courts by allowing the Appeal Court to determine the case one way or the other.

On his part, Oluwole warned that EFCC should not jeopardise Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy in its attempt to arrest Bello over allegations of money laundering.

To him, drafting the military to resolve civil, criminal, or whatever cases between Nigerians and government agencies in a democracy would be sending wrong signals about the country’s commitment to the rule of law as applied in a democracy.

“As a responsible body, the EFCC, being a creation of the law under the Nigerian Constitution, is to invite or arrest any Nigerian for questioning in the course of performing its duties not in a hard way

“However, we do not support the threat on Thursday by the anti-graft agency to draft in the military in its effort to arrest Yahaya Bello, a former Governor of Kogi State, on a court order, over allegations of money laundering.

“We urge the agency to contemplate its idea of involving the military to arrest Nigerians no matter the provocation. The consequences of drafting in the military to handle ordinary civil, and even criminal cases in a democratic setting are unhealthy for our Democracy.

“We, therefore call on the EFCC to handle the matter in a peaceful way as part of democracy”, he added.