84 Billion Loot: Yahaya Bello On The Run – EFCC

Former Governor Yahaya Bello Evades Arrest Amidst Major Financial Scandal

by Ohepo Ohepo

…Latest development in the Nigerian judiciary, former Governor Yahaya Bello is currently evading legal authorities following his involvement in a substantial financial misappropriation case. Legal proceedings have taken a critical turn as the prosecution team, led by Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, sought the court’s permission to amend charges against the implicated parties to include Bello, emphasizing his critical role in the alleged crime.

The charges, detailed in court documents filed on February 5, 2024, accuse Yahaya Bello, alongside Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, and Abdulsalam Hudu (also at large), of conspiring to launder a staggering N80 billion (approximately $193 million USD), believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities including criminal breach of trust, dating back to September 2015 in Abuja.

Despite the gravity of the allegations, Yahaya Bello remains at large, complicating the legal proceedings. Ali Bello and Dauda Suleiman, the first and second defendants present in court, have pled not guilty to the charges. The case, which has captivated public interest, raises significant concerns about corruption and the accountability of public officials in Nigeria. Legal experts are closely monitoring the situation, as it unfolds amidst calls for justice and integrity in public service.

EFCC Statement reads: EFCC Files N84bn Money Laundering Charges against Yahaya Bello, Others

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, March 14, 2024 dragged former Kogi State governor, Yahaya Adoza Bello before Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja for alleged N84billion money laundering offences, alongside his nephew Ali Bello, Dauda Sulaiman and Abdulsalam Hudu.
The EFCC is prosecuting the quartet on an amended 17-count charge of money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of fund to tune of N84, 062,406,089.88 (Eighty-four Billion, Sixty-two Million, Four Hundred and Six Thousand, Eighty-nine Naira, Eighty-eight Kobo).

To make way for Yahaya Bello’s inclusion in the trial, prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, informed the court of an application before it for the amendment of the charges against the defendants, dated February 5, 2024, and filed the same day. He then prayed that the amended charges be read to the defendants for them to take their pleas. The judge granted the prayer, overruling objections from A.M Aliyu SAN, and Olusegun Joolawo SAN, counsels to Ali Bello and Suleiman, first and second defendants.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman, Yahaya Adoza Bello (still at large) and Abdulsalam Hudu (still at large), sometime in September, 2015 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N80,246,470,089.88 (Eighty Billion, Two Hundred and Forty-six Million, Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand, Eighty-nine Naira, Eighty-eight Kobo), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of your unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(b) and punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.”

While ex-Governor Yahaya Bello and Hudu are still at large, Ali Bello and Suleiman, first and second defendants respectively, who were present in court “pleaded not guilty” to all the charges when they were read to them.
In continuation of the trial, Oyedepo invited fourth Prosecution Witness, PW4, Yakubu Gana, counsel to the property owner and seller of a property located in Danube Street, Maitama, Abuja which Ali Bello and Suleiman allegedly bought at the cost of N950million on behalf of ex-governor Yahaya Bello through their lawyer, Ramalan Jibril Abdullahi.

Gana said that, “we negotiated and agreed on the sum of N950million. Their lawyer, Ramalan Abdullahi, said his clients would prefer to pay in cash and in dollars. I had to call my client to inform him because he was not in the country at that time. My client cautioned me whether I knew the buyers, and I answered I knew their lawyer way back in secondary school.
“The lawyer and the clients invited me into their office, a bureau de change office at Zone 4, adjacent to Sheraton, now Abuja Continental Hotel.

They then showed me dollars in ‘Ghana must go,’ but the dollars in ‘Ghana must go’ was not up to that N950million. They said they would make it up by bringing some dollars to make it to N950million. The transaction took us almost two weeks, and the lawyer invited me to the same BDC office for confirmation, then the money was completed in dollar equivalent,” he said.

In his testimony as fifth prosecution witness, Abdullahi told the court that though he acted as a go-between in the purchase of the property, his major assignment was to carry out due diligence on the said property which paved the way for its purchase by Ali Bello and Suleiman, his clients.

Oyedepo requested for the property’s title documents to enable him to tender them in evidence. However, Justice Omotosho ordered him to formally apply to the defendants and thereafter adjourned the matter to March 28, 2024 for continuation of trial.
Visit www.efcc.gov.ng for more stories

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