Alleged N80bn Fraud: Anti-Bello, Pro-Bello Groups Quarrel over Ex-Gov’s Case with EFCC

Yahaya Bello

As the immediate past governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello continues to slug his trial in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the alleged N80 billion case has become a warring matter between groups divided into anti-bello and pro-bello.

The Kogi Conscience Liberation Movement and the Kogi Concerned Citizens Forum, on Friday staged a demonstration at the headquarters of the EFCC, calling for accelerated investigations into the case.

The protest, led by Peter Onuma and Okpanachi Jacob, highlighted the severe economic consequences of corruption on the citizens of Kogi State. The demonstrators emphasized the plight of the civil service, where workers are receiving only a fraction of their rightful salaries, severely impacting the local economy.

Recalling the actions of the previous administration under ex-Governor Bello, the group pointed out the prolonged and controversial screening exercise that resulted in job losses, deaths, and widespread hardship.

Amid chants demanding justice, Onuma declared: “Our state’s economy is bleeding, and the people are suffering because of the greed and mismanagement of those in power.

“It’s a domino effect. When the workers are underpaid, the entire community suffers. The velocity of cash flow is crippled, and the hardship is palpable.

“It wasn’t just the former governor. The corruption has seeped through to the local government chairmen and financial appointees. It’s systemic.”

Reeling out their demands, Okpanachi, on his part, said, “We are asking for a thorough examination of Kogi State’s expenditures from 2016 to January 27, 2024.”

“An investigation into the former Governor of Kogi State and other corrupt officials to set a precedent for future administrations.

“An assertion that former governors should not be immuned from investigation and that the public is keenly observing the proceedings.

“An investigation into all local government chairmen involved in the corruption network. “Public disclosure of the findings from the endless screening exercise conducted by Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration.

“A comprehensive probe into all parties connected to the alleged N80 billion and N10 billion fraud cases.”

The group reaffirmed their commendation for the EFCC’s anti-corruption efforts while urging the agency to shine its investigative light on the ongoing issue of percentage salaries, suggesting that the current Kogi State administration is perpetuating past corrupt practices.

In a swift response, a Pro-bello group, named the Kogi Collective Interest Group (KOCIG), issued a statement cautioning the public against the protest, alleging that it was orchestrated by political jobbers and disgruntled individuals with ulterior motives.

In the statement signed by the chairman, Abdulganiyu Yusuf on Friday, KOCIG discredited the protest, describing the participants as “hungry non-Kogites” and accusing them of engaging in senseless propaganda. The group asserted that the protest was politically motivated, driven by defeated politicians attempting to resurrect baseless corruption allegations against former Governor Yahaya Bello.

Expressing concern about the potential misuse of the EFCC for personal vendettas, KOCIG urged the commission to uphold the rule of law and treat all petitions strictly on their merits, avoiding manipulation by disgruntled politicians.

“This is where the EFCC leadership must be wary of becoming an accidental tool of vendetta in the hands of politicians who are so desperate to get their evil and dark objectives achieved at all costs. The EFCC must be above board and treat all petitions strictly on their merits and not pay attention to political miscreants who are playing to the gallery,” the group stated.

The statement highlighted the infrastructural developments witnessed in Kogi State during Bello’s eight-year administration, citing achievements in education, healthcare, roads, and security.

“Looking at the unprecedented infrastructural developments in Kogi State under the eight-year administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Kogites are forever grateful for the insight and management expertise of the former Governor. With all the legacy projects in education, healthcare, roads, security and so forth, there is nowhere left for any money to be misappropriated. It is public knowledge that an international financial institution like The World Bank gave Kogi State a clean bill of health in the areas of transparency and fiscal accountability more than once under Yahaya Bello,” the statement reads.

Addressing allegations of suppressed activities, KOCIG challenged the protesters to provide concrete proof of their claims in a court of competent jurisdiction.

“In this particular case, we will demand that these imprudent characters show proofs of their reckless allegations against Yahaya Bello to the public or a Court of competent jurisdiction. It is the sole responsibility of who alleges to show indubitable proofs of their allegations and they must be ready to prove that,” they said.

The group pledged to employ legal means to hold those making reckless allegations accountable, emphasising the negative impact of such actions on the image of Kogi State and its people.


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