Court of Appeal Dismisses Suit by Yahaya Bello Against EFCC Chairman

Court of Appeal Halts Contempt Proceedings Against EFCC Chairman by Ex-Kogi Governor Yahaya Bello

by Ohepo Ohepo

Abuja, June 2024 – The Court of Appeal in Abuja has halted the contempt proceedings initiated by former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello against the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede. The court granted an ex parte motion for a stay of proceedings in the contempt application filed by Bello.

Justice Joseph O.K. Oyewole, presiding over the case, granted the EFCC’s application to serve the appeal processes by substituted means on Bello. The panel, which included Hon. Justice P. C. Obiora JCA and Hon. Justice Okon Abang JCA, issued a unanimous judgment setting aside the contempt proceedings.

The controversy began when Olukoyede was summoned to appear before the Kogi State High Court in May to explain why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly disobeying court orders. These orders were related to a siege laid by EFCC operatives at Bello’s Abuja residence after a court ruling in Bello’s favor in a fundamental human rights suit.

The EFCC appealed the trial court’s ruling and requested a stay of proceedings. The Kogi State High Court had initially ruled that the EFCC violated a restraining order issued on February 9, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive motion.

In a decisive judgment, Justice Oyewole, supported by Justices A.M. Talba and D. Z. Senchi, overruled Bello’s preliminary objection, citing technicalities. The appellate court noted that the high court judge did not extend the February 9 orders in the final judgment on April 17, 2024, rendering the interim order argument academic.

The case stems from an April 17 incident when EFCC operatives laid siege to Bello’s residence at 8 a.m., aiming to arrest him despite a restraining order. Justice I. A. Jamil of the Kogi State High Court had ruled that the EFCC’s actions violated the court’s order, amounting to contempt. This ruling was based on an ex parte motion filed by Bello’s lawyer, M.S. Yusuf.

The legal representation in the case included Okutepa and Adanu Emmanuel Ogwiji, Esq for the EFCC, and Victor Oni, Esq for the respondent, Bello.

The Court of Appeal’s decision to stay the contempt proceedings marks a significant development in the ongoing legal battle between Bello and the EFCC.

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