Home » Court of Appeal Overturns Contempt Charges Against EFCC Boss

Court of Appeal Overturns Contempt Charges Against EFCC Boss

Nigeria Politics

by Victor Adetimilehin

In a dramatic turn of events, a Nigerian court on Thursday overturned contempt of court charges against the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede, in a case filed by Yahaya Bello, the immediate past governor of Kogi State. This decision by the Court of Appeal in Abuja clears the path for the EFCC to proceed with a corruption case against Bello.

Bello Accuses EFCC of Disobeying Court Order

The legal battle centered around a 2024 incident where EFCC operatives reportedly surrounded Bello’s Abuja residence, intending to arrest him. Bello argued this action defied a Kogi State High Court order prohibiting the EFCC from taking him into custody.

Justice I. A. Jamil of the Kogi State High Court sided with Bello, ruling the EFCC in contempt. However, the EFCC challenged the ruling and secured a stay of proceedings from the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal’s unanimous decision, delivered by Justice Joseph Oyewole, hinged on a technicality. The Kogi State High Court judge, according to the appellate court, failed to properly extend the February 9, 2024 order in the final ruling issued on April 17, 2024. The court further stated that the EFCC’s appeal rendered the question of the interim order irrelevant.

This verdict additionally imposed a N1 million cost on Bello.

EFCC Ready to Move Forward with Corruption Case

The Court of Appeal’s ruling paves the way for the EFCC to resume its corruption case against Yahaya Bello. The anti-graft agency accuses Bello of embezzling over N80 billion from Kogi State’s treasury during his eight-year tenure. Bello has consistently denied these charges.

Bello’s legal team has remained silent on the Court of Appeal’s decision. Whether he will pursue further legal action is unclear. His arraignment before the Federal High Court in Abuja, initially scheduled for April 2024, has been postponed to June 27, 2024.

This legal battle has generated significant interest in Nigeria, with many watching how it unfolds. Supporters of Bello view the case as politically motivated, while others see it as a crucial step in tackling corruption within the country.

The EFCC’s victory in the Court of Appeal is a significant development. It strengthens the agency’s ability to hold powerful figures accountable for alleged financial crimes. However, the legal saga surrounding Yahaya Bello is far from over. The upcoming arraignment and potential trial will be closely monitored, with Nigerians eager to see how the corruption charges against the former governor play out.

Source: Punch


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