The nephews of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Aliyu Bello and Dauda Suleiman who were remanded in Kuje prison by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, have been released.
ebirareporters.com learnt that Bello was first released on Wednesday, and Suleiman on Thursday having met their bail conditions.
Recall that following their arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on December 15th, 2022, Justice James Kolawole Omotosho remanded the Governor’s nephews pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions over an alleged N10bn fraud.
Justice Omotosho admitted the defendants to bail in the sum One Billion Naira each and two sureties who are to provide a bond of N2billion each and have a landed property valued at N500 million. The title of the properties shall be registered with the chief registrar of the Court.
Each of the sureties and the defendants shall submit their bank statements and international passports to the chief registrar of the Court.
The sureties must also produce an affidavit of means and evidence of tax clearance for at least 3 years.
The EFCC in a statement said that they were arraigned alongside one Abdulsalami Hudu, Cahier of Kogi State Government House Administration whom the anti-graft agency said was at large.
“Bello and Sulaiman are accused of fraudulently withdrawing a sum of N10, 270,556,800 (Ten Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy Million, Five Hundred and Fifty-six Thousand Eight Hundred Naira), from the Kogi State treasury, which they delivered to a Bureau de Change operator, Rabiu Tafada in Abuja to keep or change to foreign currencies for personal gains.
One of the charges reads: “That you, ALI BELLO, DAUDA SULEIMAN AND ABDULSALAMI HUDU (NOW AT LARGE)between January and December, 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court procured RABIU USMAN TAFADA to take possession of the total sum of N5,865,756,800 (Five Billion, Eight Hundred and Sixty Five Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Six Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (c), 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act”.
Another count reads: “That you, ALI BELLO, DAUDA SULEIMAN AND ABDULSALAMI HUDU (NOW AT LARGE) between January and December 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court aided RABIU USMAN TAFADA to retain the total sum of N2,509,650,000.00 (Two Billion Five Hundred and Nine Million, Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: Criminal Misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State Government and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (a) 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act”.
Having pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, the case was adjourned to February 6th, 2023.
The government of Kogi State has accused the anti-graft agency of political witch-hunt and desperation to crucify the state.
Reacting to the development, the government in a press statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications Kingsley Fanwo, said it would allow the law take its course and prove its innocence.
Fanwo said: “It would be recalled that this same EFCC once accused the Kogi State Government of stashing 20 billion naira bailout funds in a fixed deposit account in Sterling Bank. When the legal fireworks were about to ruffle their biased feathers, they quickly backed out and claimed the money had been returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria. Till date, they have not shown Nigerians any proof of the return even when Sterling Bank Plc has under oath denied the return of any monies belonging to the Kogi State Government. It is trite that what does not exist cannot be taken or returned.
“The Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa has shown a desperate penchant for satisfying his sponsors who are bent on disparaging the good image of the Government and people of Kogi State for political gains. As a Government, it is our responsibility to defend the integrity of the State and her people.
“The media trial by the EFCC is a calculated and orchestrated plan to embarrass the State Government by going after its Officials and Associates with trumped up charges to satisfy the destructive fangs of their paymasters.
“Let it be on record that no money belonging to the Kogi State Government was laundered. SFTAS is a World Bank accountability project to ensure the Government stays accountable to the people. For many years, Kogi has won Awards as one of the most transparent State Governments in Nigeria. A responsible anti-graft agency would have made Kogi an example of transparency and excellence. However, with its endless wild goose chase, Nigerians would even wonder if EFCC’s obviously biased corruption binoculars are only designed for Kogi State.
“It is not unexpected that the EFCC would feel disappointed that the monies they claimed had been stolen from the coffers of the state have been used to build Nigeria’s best hospitals, good roads, best schools that are about to be commissioned. We cannot help their descent into political pawn. We will continue to make the resources of our state work for our people.
“Nigerians know that the recent Gestapo-like operation against the State was occasioned by EFCC’s failure to sell the “fixed” Bailout funds debacle to the people. They became desperate to save their face from the disgrace bestowed on them by their “Destroy Kogi” Agenda.
“We urge our people not to take the laws into their hands as we are prepared in fact and in conscience for the legal battle ahead.”