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Kogi Senators’ secret plea for Bello at EFCC over alledged N20 billion bailout fraud, highly condemnable

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Last week, news of Kogi State Senators’ secret visit to the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) was all over the Nigerian media, to plead for a soft landing for the State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello over the alledged N20 billion bailout fund domiciled in a salary account with Sterling Bank.

A Federal High, Lagos division has on 31st July, frozen Kogi State Salary Account on a motion brought before it by the Economic and Financial Commission to enable them carry out an investigation.

We are appalled at the three Senators’ secret visit and if not for the prying eyes of the media, nobody would have known that the lawmakers who should ordinarily be neutral have now turned themselves into negotiators in a case that was already in court. Though, the three Senators’, Jibrin Isah Echocho (Kogi East), Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) and Yakubu Oseni (Kogi Central) called the visit a fact-finding, but one doesn’t need a soothsayer to know that there was a ploy to strike a deal for a soft landing and this is highly condemnable, and undistinguished, given that the investigation was still ongoing in the case.

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The Economic and Financial Commission is an agency of government statutorily empowered by an Act that set it up to investigate economic crimes. In the foregoing, the EFCC was merely acting within its powers. The agency can only investigate, which could involve inviting the accused for interrogation in their office either at the headquarters or zonal office, but arrest or criminal prosecution can’t be effected given that the governor was covered by immunity until a time that immunity has been removed. Why the bellyache of Senators!

The EFCC was at a point of inviting Governor Yahaya Bello to its headquarters to be interrogated by the operatives, a development the lawmakers became aware that occasioned the impromptu visit last week Tuesday. It beat one’s imagination that they are more concerned than the governor who has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The attempt by Senators to prejudice a case already in a Federal High Court, showed reasons for the systemic rot that has impeded the growth of the nation in all fronts. It shows that the few privileged ones in the society believed they can do anything and go Scot-free, such that, a humongous fund like the N20 billion and other plethora of frauds in the State or anywhere else shouldn’t be an issue. A very dangerous precedence indeed!

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The society has however, found solace that the Chairman and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa reportedly laid all the cards on the table where the unsolicited visitors were told that activities of the anti-graft agency wasn’t a personal one or a political witch-hunt, but an official responsibility.

If the Senators were on a fact finding mission to EFCC on behalf of Yahaya Bello as they want the world to believe, are they investigators? Were they on an oversight visit to the EFCC? It is important they should go further to explain reason for the visit as ‘the fact finding’, wouldn’t fly.

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Bawa had displayed wisdom and maturity to have given Senators audience for two hours, but Nigerians are waiting to see that Kogi case and other cases of this nature does not die due to pressure from the elites.

The freezing of the Kogi State salary bailout account ordinarily shouldn’t be an issue, if Yahaya Bello’s hands were clean, but the worrisome aspect again, was the Senators seemed to have gone to the EFCC office with verdict in their bags as they reportedly told the anti-graft Chairman that, “Governor Yahaya Bello has always been committed to good governance, transparency and accountability”, and there was no the governor would engage in fraudulent transactions. This is even as bar of governance has been lowered in Kogi State.

Without sentiment, Nigerians and the world are waiting to see the EFCC not bowing to elitist conspiracy, not only in Kogi State, but other States.

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