Pro-EFCC, pro-Yahaya Bello protesters at agency Hqtrs

The ongoing probe of alleged N80.2billion fraud in Kogi State took a new dimension yesterday following protest marches by those backing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and the supporters of the former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello.
While the Kogi Conscience Movement was for the EFCC, Kogi Youth Coalition formed a wall around the entrance to the commission in solidarity for Bello.

The two groups marched on the EFCC’s headquarters in Abuja at different times with placards for and against.

While a director received the pro-EFCC supporters, those for Bello were dispersed following alleged “unruly behavior.”

Pro-Bello protesters however alleged that they were attacked and live bullets fired at them.

But the EFCC said its operatives were civil in dispersing those who protested in favour of Bello.

The Kogi Youth Coalition claimed that 10 pro-Yahaya Bello protesters were arrested and injured.

Taking the first slot yesterday was pro-EFCC protesters under the guise of the Kogi Conscience Movement, who were led by the leaders of the association, including Peters Onuma(National Coordinator), Okpanachi Jacob Nadeco(Secretary); Desmond Obaro and Austin Okai .

The group, which wielded placards to deride the former governor of the state, asked the EFCC to arrest Bello.

Usman, one of the leaders, said they were in support of the investigation and the trial of Bello.

He asked the EFCC Chairman not to stop at getting Bello arrested.

He said: “Nigerians are with you, ordinary citizen of this country are with you. We are here to encourage, we are here to motivate you. Nobody gave us money. We don’t know the EFCC chairman. We are not being hired. You can see, we are not plenty because we have no money to give.

“We are in the forefront of this agitation and so many of us have gone to prison. Many of us have lost their lives. Some are still facing series of persecution. The time for justice is now. Thanks and God bless.”

Okai, who alleged that Bello has been in the Government House(Lugard House), Lokoja, asked the EFCC to break into the convoy of Governor Usman Ododo to arrest Bello.

He added: “We learnt the former governor is in Lugard House and he moves when Governor Usman Ododo moves. But we are saying that the governor’s convoy is not immune, it is the person that is occupying the office that is immune. Under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s convoy was stopped. It was Amaechi that had immunity, not the convoy.

“No one can obstruct the course of justice. We also want the EFCC to invite all local government past and present local government chairmen in the state.”

The movement submitted a letter of solidarity to the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, for onward transmission to the EFCC chairman, Mr. Ola Olukoyede

Uwujaren assured that Bello’s case will not be swept under the carpet.

He said EFCC will not rest until the ex-governor is arraigned

He said: “I want to thank you for coming to identify with the work of the EFCC. I am, for instance, personally happy that I can see the citizens of Kogi State that are concerned about the misuse of their state resources.

“I want to assure you that I have the permission of the EFCC chairman that this matter will not be swept under the carpet.

The issue we have with Yahaya Bello is not a personal matter The EFCC is just out to enforce the law. We have charges that are pending before the High Court in Abuja, all we want Yahaya Bello to do is to answer those charges. We are not concerned about renting crowd or getting people to speak in our favour. No

All we want is for him, wherever he is hiding, let him come out and attend to the charges that have been filed against him. It is not a personal issue.

“The commission has had cause to arraign several ex-governors and some of them are walking free now because they have been properly arraigned and granted bail. That is what we want Yahaya Bello to do because there is nobody in Nigeria that is above the law.

“Yahaya Bello, as a former governor does not have immunity against prosecution and he knows that. So, wherever he is hiding, the message I have for him this morning, is to simply come out and be properly arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction and then answer to the allegations we have preferred against him.

“All other shenanigan that we are seeing is just a distraction as far as EFCC is concerned. We will not rest until he is arraigned in court. “

But barely few minutes after, many Kogi youths were at the headquarters of the EFCC to protest the “alleged political persecution of the immediate past Governor of the state.

The Kogi Youth Coalition members said they were allegedly attacked by operatives of the commission

They queried why the rally in support of the EFCC, fuelled by the opposition in the state, was allowed to go peacefully and theirs was repelled.

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They demanded that the Rule of Law be respected.

They, however, vowed to resist the “glaring intimidation”.

They called on President Bola Tinubu to call EFCC to order.

They said the former governor was backed by the law in all his actions.

They said Bello was not the first person to obtain a restraining order in Nigeria against undue harassment and persecution.

The Head of the Kogi Youth Coalition, Otitoleke Richard, said, “We’re here at the headquarters of EFCC in Abuja, to address a topical national issue that has to do with the rule of law, the defence of democratic governance in Nigeria.

“We have been intimidated, we have been harassed. The EFCC is saying we do not have the right to express our opinion on national issues. We have been shot at; they have used their stick to beat ordinary Nigerians that are harmless.

“We shall continue to air our opinion for democracy to thrive in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a banana republic. We’re saying the Rule of Law must be applied to all corruption files. You cannot fight corruption with lawlessness.

<<The Nation>>