''EFCC shot itself on the foot'' - Former Attorney General criticizes handling of Yahaya Bello case


Michael Aondoakaa

Michael Aondoakaa, Nigeria’s former Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation, has criticized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for its handling of the investigation of former Kogi governor Yahaya Bello.

Speaking on Arise TV this morning, Aondoakka stated that the EFCC made a fundamental error made by including Bello in a charge relating to events predating his tenure as governor.

According to Aondoakka, through legal recourse, Bello sought to enforce his fundamental human rights based on the flawed charge brought against him by the EFCC.

His words: ”I think the controversy was unnecessary in case of Yahaya Bello. Because some of the details that are coming up are unnecessary.

”There was an ongoing case with Yahaya Bello to enforce his fundamental human rights. It was based on one particular case, which the EFCC amended a charge and included him. That is charge number 5502022, pending before the federal high court in Abuja.

”At the accusation in that charge, I think there was an error by EFCC. The error was that he was being roped there because he was governor, but they referred 2015. In 2015, the man said, I was not even a governor. I was a governor in 2016.

”That was a premise he went to enforce his fundamental human rights before a state high court, which the state high court and the federal high court have concurrent jurisdiction to enforce fundamental human rights.

”When he enforced the fundamental human right, there was interlocutory order restraining EFCC not to arrest him pending the hearing of the case.”

He continued: Then the second aspect of the judge, the Kogi High Court say that if you want to have any additional charges to file against Yahaya Bello, don’t arrest him, but file him the charges in court.

”And so once charges are filed in court, the agency cannot arrest. It is the court that will issue the summons and serve on Yahaya Bello. And it’s the court that will now, if he doesn’t show up, the court can issue a bench warrant for his arrest.

”The moment the bench warrant is served for failure to appear to answer the charges against him, which are already before the court, then the agency can go to arrest based on the bench warrants.

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”So I’m thinking, and it’s the most wise thing to do in this matter, is to follow the order of the court, the Federal High Court. I don’t even see it necessary to appeal the order because I see the order being well-balanced.”

The Benue-born Senior Advocate of Nigeria, advised the EFCC not to disregard the rule of law while carrying out its duties.

He said: ”The EFCC ought to take orders from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the enabling law. And the only people that interpret the enabling law are the judges.

”In this case, the only order EFCC will follow now is the order made by the trial judge of Kogi High Court, which gave directions on how EFCC will proceed to arraign Yahaya Bello.

”Of course, they have done the arraignment. In the case which was 2022, they have filed charges in court. He’s no longer a governor, so he can be prosecuted based on the charges they have filed.

”And once charges are in court, it’s no longer the agency that will arrest, it’s the court that will issue summons against Yahaya Bello. And when Yahaya Bello does not appear, then EFCC will apply to the court for a bench warrant to bring him to come and answer charges. These are the steps he has to take.”

Aondoakka elaborated on the recent judgment delivered by Justice Modipwe, which clarified the legal standing of the case.

He noted that the judgment emphasized that Bello should not be arrested or detained, and instead, the court should issue summons for him to appear regarding the pending charge.

The former Attorney General urged the EFCC to adhere to the court’s directives and legal procedures, stressing that Bello, like any other citizen, is subject to the law.

He further urged the EFCC to follow the prescribed legal procedures outlined by the court and affirmed that Bello, despite his status, must be treated in accordance with the law.

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