Yahaya Bello: “We Do Not Consider Bello a Saint, But He Deserves His Rights Under Law” — CSOs

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been urged by the Coalition of Anti-Corruption Civil Society Organisations (CACSO) to ensure strict compliance with the law in handling the alleged corruption charges against former Kogi governor, Yahaya Bello.

Addressing newsmen on Thursday in Lagos, Mr Debo Adeniran, who spoke for the group, said the EFCC could fight corruption without desecrating the courts.

Adeniran who is the Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership ( CACOL) said the public face-off between the EFCC and the former Kogi governor in Abuja, was both unnecessary and unfortunate.

“When you treat a suspect in a way deemed to be violating his constitutional rights, you drive public sympathy to his side.

“We do not consider Bello a saint, but he deserves his rights under the law.

“Court documents at our disposal show that he had obtained a High Court restraining order on the EFCC not to arrest or prosecute him pending determination of a case of the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.

” The EFCC has rightfully appealed the case with the intention of vacating. The commission has done very well up to this point following the due processes of law.”he said.

According to available court documents, hearing on the appeal has been slated for Monday in Abuja.

” However, the news of foiled arrest of the former governor by the commission on Wednesday went viral.

“One would have expected the commission to wait for determination of its own appeal before going after the suspect.

“The action is tantamount to both the EFCC preempting the outcome of its appeal and also violating a subsisting and valid court order to pause action pending determination of the case.”he said

Adeniran.pointed out that a court of coordinate jurisdiction could not assume superiority over another.

“We think it is an abuse of court processes to ignore a court order still on appeal at the instance of the commission and go obtain a warrant of arrest from another court on the same suspect.

“Conflicting court orders emerged from two courts of coordinate jurisdiction. The earlier one restated the restraining order on the EFCC on the suspect.

“But the EFCC allegedly rushed to another High Court to obtain order to make arrest contrary to an earlier judgment by a court of coordinate jurisdiction.

“This is orchestrating judicial anarchy. It is an unnecessary confusion.”he said

According to him, intervention of the coalition goes beyond Bello.

“Injustice to anyone, no matter how bad the person may be perceived, should not be allowed to stand because it may be your turn tomorrow.

“We urge the EFCC to revert to status quo antebellum, pending determination of its appeal and a vacation of the restraining order placed on it. That is the way and dictate of the law.”he said.

Adeniran said that while the coalition would continue to support the EFCC and other anti corruption agencies, they must treat suspects of corruption without breaking a law to enforce another law.

“The EFCC must be active without being overzealous. It must carry out its operations legally without acting in a way that could suggest it is pandering to political pressures.

“The commission should show evidence that it had earlier invited the former governor which he didn’t honour. If that happened, it would have been justified to go after him for forcible arrest.”

He, however, commended the EFCC operatives for exercising restraint by not forcefully breaking into the former governor’s house.

The coalition included representatives of Campaign Against Impunity, Activists for Good Governance, Ohaneze Youth Council, Women Democratic Vanguard and
Centre for Socioeconomic Rights.

Others in the coalition are the Transparency and Accountability Group, Centre for Public Accountability, and Media Rights Campaign ,among others. (NAN)

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