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UPDATED: ‘N80bn Fraud’: Why We Haven’t Captured Yahaya Bello – EFCC

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By Matthew Ochei

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Wednesday, said ex-Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, who is accused of N80.2bn fraud, had ridiculed the Nigerian justice system by failing to present himself for trial in court.

The EFCC acting Zonal Director, Benin Zonal Command, Mr Effa Okim, stated this during a familiarisation visit to the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Asaba, Delta State capital.

The EFCC is having a running legal battle with Bello over alleged N80.2bn fraud.

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Following a failed attempt to arrest him and his repeated absence from court for his arraignment, the EFCC declared Bello wanted, while the Nigerian Immigration also placed the governor on a watchlist.

When asked on Wednesday why the EFCC had yet to arrest Bello weeks after he was declared wanted, an irate Okim claimed that the ex-governor was being shielded by the system.

“This is the last question I expected because the shame is on all of us. Is that a question I should answer alone? It’s not me, it is the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the EFCC zonal director said.

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“That politically-exposed Yahaya Bello, whose crime has been traced to him by allegation and has been invited by EFCC to come and explain, and for months he is acting drama and we are all here wanting to ask questions! The shame is our own shame.

“Can’t we catch him? We can, but do we go all out to catch him? Do we need to do that when he has his masters? Can’t they call him and tell him, ‘You are disgracing Nigeria’? What are you telling the world? Tell him to go and explain himself like others have done.

“Where are the ministers? Where are Yahaya Bello’s colleagues, even in his hiding? So, Nigerians can’t tell him ‘This is not fair, go and report; they are not going to kill you’? But people are still eating and dining with him.”

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Okim said beyond legality, there was a moral aspect of the case.

“Where has morality gone before legality that we can’t summon that man and tell him to go and report himself to the EFCC? Some persons are writing, supporting him, while some are criticizing the commission.

“The problem is our own problem that borders on Nigeria’s image. Our children are watching their parents behave like children.

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“To me, the truth has vanished. Even in Animal Farm, this will not happen, that a man who was part of the system that was a custodian of our culture, rules and laws can behave like this and you are asking questions.

“The media should come out for the first time to harmonise, criticise that action and forget about prosecution but tell him to make himself available; thereafter we know what to do.”

Okim said the criminal justice system had been ridiculed by the actions of Bello, “And because we respect the law, we want to go by the process, we are inhibited that does not make us weak.”

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The Chairman, NUJ Delta State Council, Churchill Oyowe, assured the commission the support of journalists in the state.

(PUNCH, excluding headline)

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