The Kogi State Government has raised the alarm over what it described as a desperate attempt by “criminals masquerading as politicians” to tarnish the image of the immediate-past governor of the State, Yahaya Bello, and frame him for alleged theft of public funds predating when he assumed office as governor of the state.
The State government said the plot against Bello was for selfish reasons, and it’s being championed through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The state government said, in its desperation, “which would leave Nigerians wondering who exactly is afraid of Yahaya Bello”, the EFCC has, in an amended charge, accused the former governor of diverting Kogi State Government’s funds in September 2015, four months before he assumed the position of a governor in 2016.
It said this was not only laughable but portrayed the EFCC as an agency infested with persons whose intents disagree with the noble intention of President Bola Tinubu to defeat corruption in Nigeria.
A statement signed by the State’s Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, on Tuesday, said, “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 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.”
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.”
The state government asked: “Why should Nigerians trust the leadership of the agency that made such a ridiculous, shameless and indefensible allegation? The Chairman of the Commission should tender unreserved apologies to the Nigerian people for making us a laughing stock in the comity of nations.”
It called on President Tinubu to step into the matter to save the integrity of the EFCC from those “pushing the Commission into a fight that should be left to politicians.”
“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,” the state government added.