The Government of Kogi State has alleged that “criminals masquerading as politicians” want to tarnish the image of Former Governor Yahaya Bello through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Kingsley Fanwo, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, in a statement, wondered how the EFCC, in an amended charge, alleged the ex-Governor of diverting Kogi funds four months before he assumed office in September 2015.
The statement reads in parts: “The fact that the EFCC, in charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/550/2022: FRN V. 1. Ali Bello 2. Dauda Suleiman, currently pending before Honorable 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.
“Being ‘at large’, of course, means that a person is evading arrest or is on the run and cannot be found after an attempt to arrest.
“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 a 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.
“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, CON, 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 the 27th day of January 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.”
Kogi government sent warnings to those it described as “political actors” to steer clear of the State’s affairs and stop their campaign of calumny “as the state government has not said its money is missing, and has been adjudged, both locally and internationally, as the top in the area of transparency and accountability.”
It urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to interfere to save the integrity of the anti-graft agency from those “pushing the Commission into a fight that should be left to politicians.”
The statement added, “The Kogi State Government, under the leadership of His Excellency Alh. Ahmed Usman Ododo will continue to support the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr President. We will also continue to promote probity, accountability and transparency and open our books to agencies and institutions constitutionally empowered to look into them. We will continue to win awards in transparency and accountability.”