The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused the former Governor of Kogi State Alhaji Yahaya Bello of diverting N80billion of the state funds in September 2015, four months before he assumed office.
The Kogi State Government has kicked against the allegation of N80billion fraud against the immediate past governor of the state, Yahaya Bello by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Recall that Trustbase news had reported the arraignment of Bello’s nephew, Ali Bello, by the EFCC before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, for alleged money laundering to the tune of N10 billion belonging to the State government.
But the state government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, accused the EFCC of being “infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of ‘Mr. President’ to defeat corruption in Nigeria.”
Fanwo, who described the charges as “ridiculous” and “laughable”, argued that it is impossible, as the former governor was not yet in a position to access or misappropriate state funds at said time.
The Commissioner stated that “The fact that the EFCC, in charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/550/2022: FRN V. 1. Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, currently pending before Honourable Justice J.K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division further amended the ‘Amended Charge’ to include in the count, the name of H.E Yahaya Bello, describing him as being “at large,” is ridiculous, laughable and portrays the EFCC as an agency infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of Mr President to defeat corruption in Nigeria.”
Fanwo further stated that “For the sake of clarity, the original charge is against Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman, Ali’s associate.
“The offence which H.E Yahaya Bello is alleged to have committed upon which he has been named in the count is conspiracy to convert the total sum of N80,246,470,089.88 (Eighty billion, two hundred and forty six million, four hundred and seventy thousand, eighty nine naira, eighty eight kobo) which offence is said to have occurred on or about September 2015 in Abuja.
“His co-conspirators according to the count are Abdulsalami Hudu (Kogi State Government House Cashier) described as being ‘at large’ too, Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman.’’
The Commissioner said that the alleged offence “On or about September 2015 in Abuja,” given that the outgoing governor had not yet taken the oath of office and could not have converted the purported amount from the government house.
According to Fanwo, before becoming Kogi State’s governor, Bello had no financial relationships with the government that would have allowed him to transfer funds owned by the Kogi State Government.
He said that “In the EFCC’s desperation to nail H.E Yahaya Bello, they forgot their thinking hammer at home. The count of the offence is most laughable as the election that produced H.E Yahaya Bello, as Governor of Kogi was only conducted in November 2015.
“Indeed, H.E. Captain Idris Wada of the PDP held sway as Governor of Kogi State at the material time until he handed over to H.E Yahaya Bello on January 27, 2016.
“H.E Yahaya Bello could therefore not have as of September 2015 conspired with anyone, including Abdulsalami Hudu, a Kogi Government House cashier, to convert any money belonging to the Kogi State Government.
“It is to be noted that H.E Yahaya Bello before becoming the Governor of Kogi State had no financial dealings with the Kogi State Government which could have permitted him to convert monies belonging to the Kogi State Government, hence, one’s dismay at the allegation.
“The state government warned political actors to steer clear of Kogi State affairs and desist from their campaign of calumny “as the state government has not said its money is missing, and has been adjudged, both locally and internationally, as top in the area of transparency and accountability.”