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Yahaya Bello’s Trial: EFCC withdraws case at Appeal Court

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja to withdraw the appeal it filed to set aside the interim injunction that barred it from arresting the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for trial.

The anti-graft agency, in its notice of discontinuance dated April 22, said its decision to terminate further proceedings on the appeal, was based on the fact that the initial order a Kogi State High Court made in favour of the former governor, has been overtaken by events.

Besides, the Commission admitted that the appeal it brought against the said interim order, was filed outside the time allowed by the law.

The process, which EFCC filed before the appellate court, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard on Wednesday, read: “The Appellant herein intends to and do hereby wholly withdraw her appeal against the respondent in the above mentioned appeal.

“This notice of withdrawal is predicated on the fact that; on the 17th April 2024, the application filed by the appellant herein was overtaken by the decision of the same high court of Kogi state in the case of Alhaji Yahaya Bello Vs EFCC- Suit No: HCL/68m/2024, per A. I. Jamil.

“The orders made ex parte by Jamil on the 9th of February 2024 in said suit which is the subject of this appeal, was made to last pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion on notice which was finally determined by Jamil J. on the 17th April 2024.

“Furthermore, the notice of appeal was filed out of time and we, therefore, pray that the appeal be struck out for being filed out of time and incompetent.”

It will recalled that the embattled former governor had in a bid to stop his arrest, ran before the Kogi State High Court to enforce his fundamental rights.

The court, in a ruling it delivered on February 9, issued an interim order that restrained the EFCC from inviting, arresting or prosecuting the Applicant over the subject matter of the charge against him, pending the determination of the suit.

Though the EFCC filed an appeal to set aside the interim order, the court, on April 17, delivered its judgement on Bello’s substantive suit.

Specifically, Justice Abdullahi, in his judgement, said the agency must not move against the Applicant in respect of the charge, without the express permission of the Federal High Court.

“Looking at the orders sought by the Applicant (Yahaya Bello), I am inclined to grant them subject to some alterations which in my view will meet the justice of this case, in the following terms;

“An order is hereby granted enforcing the Fundamental Rights of the applicant to liberty and freedom of movement and fair hearing, by restraining the Respondent (EFCC) by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain or in any manner whatsoever arresting, detaining or prosecuting the Applicant on the basis of the criminal Charges now pending before the Federal High Court, Abuja to wit; Charge No.

FHC/ABJ/CR/550/2022 between FRN v. Ali Bello & Anor, without prejudice to the power of the said Federal High Court, to make any Order as it may deem just in the determination of the rights of the Applicant and the Respondent as may be submitted to her for consideration and determination.

“An Order is hereby granted directing the Respondent to bring before the said Federal High Court, or any such appropriate Court, such criminal Charge, allegation or Complaint in respect whereof the Applicant is reasonably believed by the Respondent to have committed any offence subject of its jurisdiction, provided that the Respondent shall not invite, arrest or detain the Applicant on account of a reasonable belief that the Applicant has committed any financial crime, without first obtaining the leave of a superior Court of Record, especially haven regard to the antecedents of the Respondent in the manner it has managed its engagements with the Applicant,” the Kogi state high court held.

The judgement came on a day the Federal High Court in Abuja issued an order of arrest against the former governor.

However, effort by the EFCC to execute the arrest warrant was thwarted by the incumbent governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, who allegedly smuggled his predecessor away from his Abuja residence in his official vehicle.

Bello is facing a 19-count charge bordering on his alleged complicity in money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of about N80.2billion.

Trial Justice Emeka Nwite had fixed May 10 to rule on an application the former governor filed to challenge the warrant of arrest that was issued against him.

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