Alleged Fraud: PDP Chieftain Tells EFCC To Arrest Former Governor, Yahaya Bello

Austin Okai, the Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State, has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to hold the immediate past governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, accountable for alleged financial misconduct.

Okai, who contested as the House of Representatives candidate for Dekina/Bassa in the 2023 elections, issued the statement in Abuja on Sunday.

Highlighting the challenges faced by civil servants due to financial mismanagement, Okai stressed the importance of addressing the alleged misappropriation of funds, despite the state’s efforts to protect its interests.

He referenced a previous court order, issued by Justice Tijani Ringim, which froze government accounts following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC on August 31, 2021.

“The anti-graft agency, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, had stated that it received credible and direct intelligence.”

“The intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities in an account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.”

“Moving the application for the interim forfeiture of the funds on August 31, 2021, A. O. Mohammed, counsel to the EFCC, had urged the court to grant the order to prevent further dissipation of the funds in the account.”

“Mohammed had also told Justice Ringim that the N20 billion meant to augment payment of salary and running cost of the government was kept in an interest-yielding account with the bank,” he said.

Okai said the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, debunked the allegation then and said that the state government judiciously used the funds for its intended purpose.

According to Okai, it is untenable to shield any individual, including Bello, at the expense of the welfare of Kogi workers.

He said the results of such actions were profound, with millions of lives hanging in the balance.

Okai noted that the EFCC had recently named the former governor in an ongoing corruption case but had yet to formally charge him.

According to him, Bello’s nephew, Ali Bello, and his associate, Dauda Suleiman, the two defendants in the case, were accused of diverting funds belonging to Kogi government.

“But in the newly introduced count, the two defendants in the case were accused of conspiring with the former governor to convert the total sum of N80.2 billion belonging to Kogi State Government to personal use,” he said.

Okai urged all Kogites and all concerned Nigerians to galvanize support for the EFCC’s efforts to bring Bello to justice, saying there was urgency for enhanced scrutiny of Bello’s alleged transgressions.

“The staggering loss of billions of naira, a burden borne by the citizens, serves as a stark reminder of the imperative to uphold accountability and transparency in governance.”

“Moreover, revelations of property acquisitions in lucrative locales like Dubai, Maitama, and Lagos raise serious questions about fiduciary responsibility.”

“It is disconcerting that despite the confiscation of numerous properties by the EFCC, investigations were impeded by immunity provisions.”

“Now, with Bello out of office, I urge Kogites and all concerned Nigerians to galvanise support for the EFCC’s efforts to bring him to justice.

“The misappropriation of public funds cannot be tolerated, and those responsible must be held accountable irrespective of their former positions,” he said.

Okai said the call to action was not driven by any personal interest but rather by a steadfast commitment to the principles of good governance and fiscal probity.

He said it was incumbent upon every citizen to remain vigilant and resolute in demanding transparency and accountability from those entrusted with the stewardship of public resources.

According to him, the future well-being of Kogi State hinges upon the integrity of its leaders and the diligence of its citizens in upholding the rule of law.

However, the Kogi State Government has described as false the allegation of corruption levelled against the immediate past governor, Bello, by the EFCC.

Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, in a statement, insisted that the state’s funds were not missing, and accused the EFCC of being politically motivated to tarnish Bello’s reputation.

“As an administration, we inherited the zero tolerance for corruption policy from the immediate past administration of Governor Yahaya Bello,” Fanwo said.