Obey court order on Yahaya Bello, CSOs tell EFCC

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Some civil society organisations have condemned what they described as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s anti-democratic approaches to issues of law enforcement against a former Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello.

It also condemned the unjust application of state power by the Federal Government.

This came on the heels of a notice issued by the EFCC declaring Bello wanted for offences “in connection with an alleged case of money laundering to the tune of N80.2bn.”

The embattled former governor was placed on the watch list of the Nigerian Immigration Service while all police officers attached to him have equally been withdrawn by the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.

However, the CSOs, numbering over 120, along with their members and supporters who hit the streets of Lagos on Saturday, faulted the actions of the Federal Government in the ongoing face-off between the EFCC and the former governor.

The press conference was led by the Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran; Sina Loremikan (Campaign Against Impunity), Declan Ihekhaire (Activists for Good Governance), Gbenga Soloki (CADOV), Ochiaga Ohaneze (Ohaneze Youth Council) and Funmi Jolade (Women Democratic Vanguard).

Others present were Kola Abe (Centre for Socioeconomic Rights), Ologun Ayodeji (Transparency and Accountability Group), Femi Lawson (Centre for Public Accountability), and Gbenga Ganzallo (Media Rights Campaign), among others.

Speaking on the issue, Adeniran pointed out that the EFCC did not send a letter of invitation to Bello, thus the allegation that he evaded an arrest does not exist.

“Someone who was never invited, who has a valid court order restraining his arrest and harassment, among other reliefs, until the determination of the court case, could not be said to be evading arrest. It is deliberate misinformation to turn the public against the governor.

“If the FG continues in its iniquitous way of trampling on the rule of law by undermining our judicial system, we will mobilise a much larger number of Nigerians to join this pro-democracy struggle. It concerns all Nigerians because we don’t know who the next victim may be,” Adeniran noted.

The activist also called on the Federal Government to first obey all the court orders preceding their actions in court and then go ahead to vacate them through due process of law.

“There is no point in endangering anyone’s life unnecessarily because that’s the situation we believe that Yahaya Bello is in now. If the government doesn’t handle this matter carefully, it may shoot itself in the foot and put all Nigerians in collective injury.

“We have been on the side of the EFCC in many cases without gratification or prompting. But in this case, we insist that the EFCC is disregarding the rule of law and creating room for anarchy. And this must not be allowed to stand,” Adeniran added.

Also speaking, one of the lead activists, Gbenga Soloki, said, “If the FG insists on inviting the military to intervene in a civil case involving a citizen, they should return power to the military so that we know that we are back to ground zero.”

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