Editorial – EFCC Vs Yahaya Bello: Prosecution or Persecution?

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Politics is an interesting game. Those who loathe it would swear that it can also be a dangerous enterprise.

In this game, there are turns and twists that keep one perpetually engrossed either as an active participant or an observer at the ringside.

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The ongoing drama of many acts and scenes in Kogi State in the aftermath of the exit  of Alhaji Yahaya Bello Adoza Bello from office of the governor after the maximum eight years allowed by the Nigerian Constitution validates the above.

For example, just as the people of Kogi State and other Nigerians were eagerly doing the countdown to the handing over of power by Bello to his successor on Saturday, 27 January 2024, posters surfaced in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory with pictures of the outgoing governor, projecting him as aspiring to become the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

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The incumbent APC National Chairman is Dr Abdullahi Umaru Ganduje, former governor of Kano State and a well known political pugilist.

Ganduje is just few months in office. He was appointed APC National  Chairman just on
3 August 2023, following the resignation of former governor of Nasarawa, Abdullahi Adamu.

Given that an election into the APC National Executive Council is not currently on the cards, many political observers were of the view that the posters were meant to trigger Ganduje against Bello by some powerful individuals or groups.

This fact was obviously not lost on Bello as his Media Office issued a disclaimer on 30th January, 2024, saying that:

“We are aware of the clandestine moves by some mischief makers to create confusion within the hierarchy of the All Progressives Congress. This is the handiwork of some opposition leaders and some 5th columnists within the party.

“A part of the plans already being hatched is the circulation of campaign posters with the picture of His Excellency Alh. Yahaya Bello, CON,  the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, insinuating that he is contesting for the position of the National Chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress. The insinuation is infantile, false and should be disregarded.

” Our party is not in the process of conducting Congresses or a Convention, therefore, there is absolutely no basis for anyone to circulate any posters for party offices.

“Let it be made abundantly clear that His Excellency Alh. Yahaya Bello did not authorize anyone to circulate any posters on his behalf as he remains a loyal party man who is committed to the leadership of the National Chairman of the Party, His Excellency Dr Abdullahi Ganduje.

“We urge members of the general public to disregard the mischief of the people circulating posters to create a false impression.”

If the disclaimer has brought an end to the posters saga, another scene in the Kogi State drama has unfolded with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC)as the Lead Actor.

The agency has however set tongues wagging about whether it is out to prosecute or persecute the immediate past governor of Kogi State.

Observers believe that the EFCC’s recently amended charge in an ongoing case calls for concern and sober reflection.

The agency in the amended charge accused the former governor of diverting N80 billion in September 2015.

Bello’s nephew, Ali Bello, and his associate, Dauda Suleiman, the two defendants in the case, were accused of conspiring with Bello to convert the total sum of N80.2 billion (N80,246,470,089.88) belonging to Kogi State Government to personal use.

The commission also named in the count an alleged co-conspirator, Abdulsalami Hud, (Kogi State Government House Cashier), who it described as being “at large.”

If the EFCC is to be believed, it meant that Bello diverted the humongous amount five clear months  before he was sworn into office as the former governor’s first term began
on January 27, 2016.

Bello  emerged the APC gubernatorial candidate for the previous year’s supplementary election after the death of the party’s original candidate, Abubakar Audu on November 22, 2015. The deceased Audu won the APC primary election and Bello was the first runner-up.

The EFCC definitely is not portraying itself in good light with the amended charge.

It is indeed projecting itself as a hired gun.

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