A’court dismisses Bello’s contempt charge against EFCC boss, awards N1m fine against him

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has thrown out a contempt charge filed by former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, against the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and also awarded a N1million fine against the politician.

In a judgement delivered on Thursday, the presiding judge, O.K Oyewole, dismissed the restraining order against the EFCC.

Bello had instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the anti-graft agency in February, asking the court to declare that “the incessant harassment, threats of arrest and detention, negative press releases, and malicious prosecution” of the EFCC — “without any formal invitation — is politically motivated and interference with his right to liberty, freedom of movement, and a fair hearing”.

The former governor also asked the for an order “restraining the respondent by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, or detain him”.

Subsequently, a High Court sitting in Kogi, granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from “continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, detain, and prosecute Bello, his former appointees, and his staff or family members, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion for the enforcement of his fundamental rights”.

The EFCC filed an appeal against the interim injunction, arguing that the court could not stop the commission from carrying out its statutory responsibility.

The High Court in Kogi delivered judgment on the substantive motion on notice on April 17, when the presiding judge granted an order restraining the EFCC “from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, or detain Bello”.

The judge directed the commission to file a charge against Bello before an appropriate court if it had reasons to do so.

The EFCC filed a 19-count charge bordering on money laundering against Bello. However, the court of appeal ordered a stay of proceedings in the charge against the ex-governor, as his absence has stalled his arraignment.

The appellate court ruled that a court of law cannot “preclude” the investigation of the anti-graft agency or any law enforcement agencies and granted the commission the authority to continue its prosecution of Bello.

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