N80 billion fraud: EFCC misfired on Yahaya Bello – Dele Momodu

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dele Momodu, has criticised the approach and conduct of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in its prosecution of the immediate former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

While he noted that the commission had “misfired” in its attempt on Bello, Momodu also advised the EFCC chairman, Ola Olukoyede, to discharge his duties “meticulously, as professionally, as efficiently as possible.”

Momodu stated these in his Instagram Live show. He said while in a hurry to prosecute Bello, the commission failed to carry out due diligence.

When asked if EFCC was lying about the former governor, he said, “I have no idea, I don’t work for EFCC but from all the things that I have read, a lot of them, they misfired. That is the honest truth. They misfired. They didn’t do their due diligence.

“When you said a man took out the money and paid for his children’s school fees, just as he was about to leave power, and you go and check the documents and you see that these things started happening from 2021, 2022 (laughs); I am not illiterate.

“How do you expect me to believe everything they said when they were too much in a hurry to prosecute him that they did not take their time to check the file? Once you allow a lacuna in law, everything will fall flat. ”

The EFCC had accused Bello of offences “in connection with an alleged case of money laundering to the tune of N80.2 billion.”

The embattled former governor was placed on the watch list of the Nigerian Immigration Service while all police officers attached to him have equally been withdrawn by the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.

Olukoyede had alleged that Bello withdrew cash from the Kogi State Government account, exchanged it through Bureau De Change operators, and used the funds to pay his children’s school fees in advance before leaving office.

However, Bello’s media office denied Olukoyede’s claims, stating, “His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello did not pay the sum of USD720,000 as alleged by the EFCC Chairman or USD840,000 as is being bandied about on the internet.”

Reacting to this, Momodu said, “I mean, I looked at the issue of school fees. Before I read, I was like, how can somebody pay that kind of money? Then, when I read, it was something else I was seeing. They said he paid upfront just before he left the government, and when I checked, that was not what happened. How can you try people before you go and examine the facts?”

Momodu stated that being an opposition member doesn’t justify him being “blinded by hatred” for the former governor, adding that while the nation’s judiciary system is imperfect, yet, the law “must be obeyed.”

Momodu said, “I am not one of those people who will say because I don’t like APC and because I supported Dino Melaye in the last election in Kogi State. Dino is my guy. But, I will not because of that be blinded by hatred for Yahaya Bello and say yes, he should go and surrender himself to EFCC when there is an existing injunction.

“And he is not the only governor who went to court, and if the court has granted him that, so be it. We all know that our judiciary is not so perfect, but you know, even at that law is law, it must be obeyed. If we disobey the rule of law, then we will have to obey the rule of the jungle. So, I never said that they are lying. It is their own statement that shows that they didn’t do their due diligence.”

On the handling of corruption cases, Momodu said he had expected the anti-graft agency’s boss to have learnt from the cases of his predecessors, who he said were “booted out ignominiously”

He said, “When they brought in the new chairman, I thought, oh, you will have the benefit of learning from your predecessors. All of them were booted out ignominiously and if I were in the shoes of the current chairman, what I would simply do is make sure I do my job as meticulously, as professionally, as efficiently as possible. And, you will never go wrong if you obey the rule of law.

“I watched the EFCC chairman, I think either last week or the week before the last, I was almost crying because of the way he went on and on.. If I don’t do this… spitting fire and all.. you don’t have to do media trial.”

The PDP chieftain urged President Bola Tinubu to obey the rule of law, while he (Momodu) condemned the issue of selective prosecution.

“My advice to President Tinubu is, don’t listen to all these people who will run away when tomorrow comes. Just follow the rule of law. I am appealing, obey the rule of law…. A situation where the EFCC will have to be told who can be touched and who cannot be touched is unacceptable. It is unacceptable! That is why a lot of people have given up. You can see that a lot of serious people are not even interested in whatever they are doing to Yahaya Bello. A lot of people are not interested because they have felt all the gra gra before. It is nothing new,” he said.

Momodu also labelled the actions of the EFCC boss as “personal,” saying, “Nigerians should stop wasting time. There are a lot of criminals in our system to prosecute but when the chairman who should take the people to court comes and says to one person, ‘If I don’t prosecute you to conclusion, I will resign’, that is getting personal. You don’t need all that,” he pointed out.

The veteran journalist added that he’s still a bonafide member of the PDP.