Yahaya Bello: Lawyer advises EFCC to obey court order

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

A Lawyer, Mr Jesutega Onokpasa, has advised EFCC not to act above the law in its efforts to arrest and prosecute former governor of Kogi, Yahaya Bello, over alleged N80.2 billion fraud.

Onokpasa, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at a news conference on Sunday in Abuja, advised EFCC to first vacate the existing court order restraining it from arresting and prosecuting Bello.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had declared Bello wanted for alleged case of Money Laundering to the tune of N80.2 billion.

The commission had on Wednesday made a failed attempt  to arrest the former governor at his Abuja residence.

According to him, the declaration of Bello wanted by EFCC is also illegal, until the exiting valid court order is vacated.

He described attempts by EFCC to arrest Bello without vacating the existing order from a court of coordinate jurisdiction as illegal.

He said what EFCC was doing at the moment could best be described as persecuting, rather than seeking to prosecute Bello.

“The immediate past governor has been trending in the news in a manner that calls for great concern with a plethora of ramifications.

“Cutting across serious issues such as fundamental human rights, the rule of law, and then other matters of political significance.

“As far as we are aware, former governor Bello had obtained a court order restraining the EFCC from arresting, arraigning or prosecuting him.

`We state categorically that it was perfectly entitled in law to place reliance on the protection of the law. Indeed, the same law which binds absolutely all of us in a civilized society.

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“The motto of the EFCC is that no one is above the law. Well, that starts with the EFCC itself, which is certainly not and cannot possibly be above the law.

“The remedy against an order of court is to vacate the order or to appeal the same, and most certainly not for law enforcement to thump its nose at the court and decompose into lawlessness and brigandage,’’ he said.

Onokpasa said that the withdrawal of the security details to Bello was also illegally, and thus politically exposing him to great danger.

He said that as a former governor, Bello was entitled to certain number of security details for protection.

He claimed that the former governor’s travail in the hand of EFCC was politically motivated by his perceived enemies.

“We unequivocally condemn this witch-hunt against a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a former governor of one of the states of this country,’’ he said.

Onokpasa said that while no one is condoling corruption, if there is a case of corruption against anybody, the prosecution should be done according to law.

He called on all well-meaning Nigerians, including incumbent and former governors to stand against what he described as “utter travesty.’’

“Today it may be the turn of Bello. Well, tomorrow it might be the turn of any one of us,’’ he said.

Fielding questions from journalists, Onokpasa said that the narrative that Bello was running away from prosecution was not true.

He said it was the right of Bello to seek the protection of the court in protecting his human right.

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He said that in as much that Bello had valid court order restraining EFCC from arresting or prosecuting him, the only remedy for the commission was to go back to court vacate the order.

He said that even as a law abiding citizen, Bello ought not to cooperate with anybody trying to break the law to arrest him.

“Even this order, I was reliably informed today that the court even mandated the EFCC to seek leave of the court of appeal before it can arrest or arraign Bello.

“We should not tolerate illegality in the name of enforcing the law under the guise of enforcing the law,’’ he said.

Asked if action of Gov. Usman Ododo of Kogi was not obstructing justice when he allegedly whisk away Bello form his Abuja residence from being arrested by EFCC operatives, Onokpasa said there was no evidence to that effect.

He said no one had valid evidence that Bello was in that house at that material time on that day, or that Ododo was in the said vehicle that entered Bello’s residence.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

OBE/IAA

 

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