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Coalition of anti-graft CSOs protests against military action issued on Yahaya Bello

Bello, EFCC

..Calls move anti-democratic, violation of courtroom sanctity

BY LATEEF USMAN

Yahaya Bello, In a twist of events, hundreds of human rights activists, on Saturday, hit the streets of Lagos to condemn what they described as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s antidemocratic approaches to issues of law enforcement as well as unjust application of state power by the Federal Government.

This is coming on the heels of the recent onslaught against former governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello by the nation’s anti-graft commission.

Some anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations, numbering over 120, along with a huge crowd of members and supporters, stressed that the actions of the Federal Government in the ongoing face-off between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, which took an ugly dimension during the week, suggested that the bone of contention was beyond the EFCC exercising its constitutional responsibility.

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According to them, from the facts and documents obtained on the matter, the EFCC never sent a letter of invitation to ex-Gov Bello.

“Someone who was never invited, who has a valid court order restraining his arrest and harassment, among other reliefs, until the determination of the court case, could not be said to be evading arrest. It is deliberate misinformation to turn the public against the Governor,” they said.

The anti-corruption activists and human rights crusaders, specifically condemned the military action threat by an EFCC lawyer, saying that, issuing “such a threat before a judge and inside a court was a violation of the sanctity of the courtroom.”

The Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, who led other activists during the protest on Saturday, noted that the ongoing disregard for the rule of law was not only about Yahaya Bello.

“We don’t know who the next victim will be,” he said.

“If the FG continues in its iniquitous way of trampling on the rule of law by undermining our judicial system, we will mobilise a much larger number of Nigerians to join this pro-democracy struggle. It concerns all Nigerians because we don’t know who the next victim may be,” Adeniran said.

He called on the Federal Government to first obey all the court orders preceding their own actions in court and then go ahead to vacate them through due processes of law.

“There is no point in endangering anyone’s life unnecessarily because that’s the situation we believe that Yahaya Bello is in now. If the government doesn’t handle this matter carefully, it may shoot itself on the foot and put all Nigerians in collective injury,” the activists said.

They pointed out that some of them had been in the trenches for over four decades without comprising their stand on justice.

“Thirty-one years ago when we organized to confront the military for the annulment of the June 12 election by General Ibrahim Babangida’s junta, it was for the cause of justice.

“We have organised or participated in many altruistic struggles. In the course of these selfless struggles, many of us were jailed, many were maimed, a lot lost their lives on the battlefield of the fight for justice. But we have remained undettered till date. Ours is thankless sacrifice for humanity. But we are not complaining.

“We have been on the side of the EFCC in many cases without gratification or prompting. But on this case, we insist that the EFCC is disregarding the rule of law and creating room for anarchy. And this must not be allowed to stand,” they stated.

READ ALSO: Coalition of anti-graft CSOs protests against military

The anti-graft CSOs stated, “Our intervention today is to ensure that each side in the ongoing but avoidable tension between the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the immediate former Governor of Kogi State gets the justice that is deserved – both the agency and the suspect.”

The press conference was led by Comrades Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership CACOL); Sina Loremikan, (Campaign Against Impunity); Declan Ihekhaire, (Activists for Good Governance); Gbenga Soloki, CADOV; Ochiaga Ohaneze, (Ohaneze Youth Council); Funmi Jolade, (Women Democratic Vanguard); Kola Abe, (Centre for Socioeconomic Rights); Ologun Ayodeji, (Transparency and Accountability Group); Femi Lawson, (Centre for Public Accountability) and Gbenga Ganzallo (Media Rights Campaign), among others.

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