BREAKING NEWS: Alleged N84bn fraud: Declare Yahaya Bello wanted now – Okai urges EFCC

Alleged N84bn fraud: Declare Yahaya Bello wanted now – Okai urges EFCC

Alleged N84bn fraud: Declare Yahaya Bello wanted now – Okai urges EFCC

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The House of Representatives candidate for Dekina/Bassa in the 2023 elections, Usman Okai, on Saturday called on the , EFCC, to declare former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello wanted over the misappropriation of funds.

Okai also issued a fervent call to safeguard the interests of the people of Kogi State regarding the misappropriation of funds by Bello.

He said despite the arduous task of protecting the state, it is imperative not to overlook the plight of civil servants grappling with the repercussions of fiscal misdeeds.

Recall that on August 31, 2021, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim, a vacation judge, had ordered the freezing of the account following an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, had stated that it received credible and direct intelligence, which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities in an account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Plc with the name Kogi State Bailout Account.

Moving the application for the interim forfeiture of the funds on August 31, 2021, A. O. Mohammed, counsel to the EFCC, had urged the to grant the order to prevent further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Mohammed had also told Justice Ringim that the N20 billion meant to augment payment of salary and running cost of the was kept in an interest-yielding account with the bank.

According to him, “Instead of using the for the purpose it was meant for, Sterling Bank Plc, on the instruction of the Kogi State government, transferred it from the loan account and placed it in a fixed deposit account.”

Reacting, Kingsley Fanwo, Kogi State Commissioner for Information debunked the allegation, stating that the state government judiciously used the funds for its intended purpose.

Countering Fanwo's comment, Okai said, “It is untenable to shield any individual, including former Governor Yahaya Bello, at the expense of the welfare of Kogi workers. The ramifications of such actions are profound, with millions of lives hanging in the balance.”

Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) named former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello in an ongoing case but has yet to formally charge him.

Bello's nephew, Ali Bello, and his associate, Dauda Suleiman, the two defendants in the case, were accused of diverting funds belonging to Kogi State.

But in the newly introduced count, the two defendants in the case were accused of conspiring with Mr Bello to convert the total sum of N80.2 billion (N80,246,470,089.88) belonging to Kogi State Government to personal use.

However, in a statement he signed, Okai urged the indigenes of Kogi and all concerned Nigerians to galvanize support for the EFCC's efforts to bring him to justice.

He underscored the urgency for enhanced scrutiny of Bello's alleged transgressions.

According to Okai: “What is EFCC waiting for to declare Bello wanted? And why does EFCC put 2015 in the charges, or are they trying to give ex-Governor a soft landing to escape judgment?

“The staggering loss of billions of , a burden borne by the citizens, serves as a stark reminder of the imperative to uphold accountability and transparency in governance.

“Moreover, revelations of property acquisitions in lucrative locales like Dubai, Maitama, and raise serious questions about fiduciary responsibility.

“It is disconcerting that despite the confiscation of numerous properties by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), investigations were impeded by immunity provisions.

“Now, with Bello out of office, I urge Kogites and all concerned Nigerians to galvanize support for the EFCC's efforts to bring him to justice. The misappropriation of public funds cannot be tolerated, and those responsible must be held accountable irrespective of their former positions.”

Speaking further, Okai said, “This call to action is not driven by personal animus but rather by a steadfast commitment to the principles of good governance and fiscal probity.

“As the wheels of justice turn, it is incumbent upon every citizen to remain vigilant and resolute in demanding transparency and accountability from those entrusted with the stewardship of public resources.

“The future well-being of Kogi State hinges upon the integrity of its leaders and the diligence of its citizens in upholding the rule of law.”

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