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Pendulum: Ahmed Lawan is Already My Man of the Year

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By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, it is with so much pride and joy that I wish to choose my man of the year, midway to the end of 2019. God’s ways are indeed mysterious. I was a bit uncomfortable and perturbed when the ruling party, APC, was fighting tooth and nail to install Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan as President of the Senate and Hakeem Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives. The reason for my reservations and concern was not far-fetched. I had imagined that the only reason was that, as has been typical of the highly touchy and sensitive APC apparatchiks, they must have identified Lawan as a robot they believe would do whatever he’s asked to do by the executiven, no matter how preposterous the assignment may be. It was my belief at the time, the vitriol with which the race was being pursued by the Party hierarchy could only lend credence to the pervading public perception that the Party and the Government wanted to foist a pliable and malleable leadership on the National Assembly. This was particularly the case when the candidates themselves seemed to be maintaining a level of decorum and sense of fairness which the  party top-notch seemed to be lacking.

Anyway. Lawan has won the contest by a handsome margin and he is now comfortably ensconced as the head of the Red Chamber of the National Assembly and, as a result, the head of the Federal Legislature. Congratulations to the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and our dear friend, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who emerged as Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, also with an even healthier margin. It is noteworthy that their respective victories obviously transcended party lines and that the duo are quite popular amongst their colleagues as the applause and happy buzzing atmosphere that erupted after their elections demonstrates. I pray they both individually and jointly act in the overall interests of Nigeria and Nigerians. I’m of the opinion that their loyalty and allegiance should be to the country, in accordance with the hallowed and solemn oaths that they both took after their elections, and not to any individual or collective of individuals. May God grant them the requisite wisdom and courage to foster peace, fairness and unity at all times in all that they do.

I will not trouble you with a rehash of the antecedents of the new Senate President, Senator Lawan. Much of that information is now readily available. Such is the allure of power, that one can go from relative obscurity to instant fame and stardom. It is pertinent to however note some features of Senator Lawan which I believe has not only catapulted him into the elevated position that he now occupies, but also offers a glimpse as to his personality and what the future may hold for this man who seems destined for greatness. Lawan is a geographer and former university academic who holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Cranfield, in England, United Kingdom. His Bachelors and Master’s degrees came from the University of Maiduguri and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, respectively. It is clear that Senator Lawan is a very educated man who has the opportunity of international exposure in his educational formative years. I am partial to academics because I grew up amongst them and I know the expansiveness of their thoughts and views. Clearly, Senator Lawan is a man of this ilk and the views he espouses and his purposive embracing of all-comers in the political and social spectrum shows learning and a cultured background. It accounts for why he is able to reach out to everybody and his willingness to work with all shades of opinion as long as he believes it is the best for Nigeria. Lawan’s accomplishment as both Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee whilst in opposition and the Appropriations Committee in 2015 shows that he is a man his colleagues believe has integrity and accountability. The margin of his victory despite the shenanigans that accompanied the Senate Presidency elections, and the seeming uncertainty before that, typifies a man who is very well respected by his colleagues and seen as a unifying factor. Watching from the distance, I also see Lawan as a man of cool mien and demeanour.

What Nigeria desperately needs today is that unification process which all Nigerians are now stridently and strickenly crying for as they are ravaged and savaged by all manner of disuniting and separatist talk and actions. Nigerians certainly do not need or want the endless wars of attrition being fought by President Muhammadu Buhari and, in particular, his vengeful and neurotic cronies, allies, and foot soldiers who derive so much pleasure in seeking and drawing their pints of blood from real or imagined enemies. Unknown to them, it is not all wars that must be fought because the nation is bigger than them all. However, they studiously ignore this point and only seem to see the here and now.  They forget the transience and evanescence of power and the ephemeral and fugacious nature of the intoxicating elixir that excessive and abusive power brews. They regularly flex their muscles and try to bully submissive and  already wounded Nigerians into giving in to their  bizarre ways.

One of their recent acts of truculence and obnoxiousness arose from an innocuous appointment made by the new Senate President, Mohammed Lawan.  And what was the cause of their irritation and irritability? Lawan, in his uncommon wisdom had chosen to embrace meritocracy, competence and capacity by appointing as an aide, Festus Adedayo, a highly cerebral writer and journalist, and a Lawyer in the making, who was to be his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. The way the APC trolls responded was unbelievably shocking and irrationally jejune. They pressurised Lawan so much that he had to quickly drop Festus like a hot and scorching charcoal. They unleashed a blistering campaign of calumny and obloquy against a man they claimed had committed heresy by criticizing their demi-god, President Muhammadu Buhari. Oh my God! How, they asserted, could Lawan have committed such a huge blunder and colossal faux pas by appointing such an infamous person to enjoy the spoils of war that President Buhari had made possible for all APC legislators by his own might and right?

Unfortunately, and sadly, these are the signs of the times. I can almost bet my life that most of these APC folks who took to venting their unrelenting anger against Festus Adedayo have never read any of his articles which they seek to impugn. They only acted on rumours and hearsay. Even if true that Festus is such an irascible fellow who never saw any good in Buhari, was this not an opportunity to win one of the critics over? Why could none of them see that the fact that Lawan, who is expectedly a protégé of the President had deemed it fit to appoint him would suggest that there was some benefit and advantage to be derived from Senate President and indirectly the APC and the government. Previous administrations have brought in their most vociferous and harshest critics and converted them to their attack dogs. Your worst critics often become your greatest fanatic. So, in Buhari’s Nigeria, all critics of Buhari have been summarily rejected, convicted and regarded as persona non grata without any benefit of doubt or possible rehabilitation. It is indeed a sad moment for Nigeria.

What the APC has inadvertently confirmed is that political appointments are some form of gratification and reward for loyal party men and women and not a call to service. As such, Festus Adedayo was axed and hacked down because he was going to enjoy the soup he did not help in cooking. What chicanery! If his main crime was criticizing the President, I doubt if anyone has criticized Buhari in more trenchant terms than his own irrepressible wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari, a woman whose objectivity and boldness we all hail as refreshing and commendable in a government that regards any form of critique as an attack on its performance and perceived successes.

What the President’s acolytes must realise is that critics are not necessarily the enemies of governments. Critics, even those that are acerbic, caustic and nasty can be like the mad man who enjoys his lucid moments. In their venom one will always find nuggets of golden truths that can illuminate and inspire the government to aim to do even better. In any event, every Government actually needs bold critics to help sharpen and reshape their focus. Buhari will fail, spectacularly, if he continues to live under the illusion of grandeur that he is infallible and beyond reproach. In my view , it is those selfish sycophants, lackeys and hangers-on that have contributed in the portrayal of the President as a spiteful, bitter man who does not forget or forgive. Indeed, I believe that people may have been taking advantage of his style of leadership by delegation to feather their own nests at the detriment of their principal’s reputation and goodwill.

I believe that President Buhari has just wasted what could easily have been a major public relations stunt for his government and party of gladiators and warmongers. Like I am doing now, many people would have hailed not just Lawan, but the entire APC executive and the President for allowing a vocal critic like Festus Adedayo to join the team of the country’s number three citizen. The danger I see is in the vainglorification of APC members and the illusory belief that Buhari is the only saint and no one must ever criticize him.

Nigeria can do much better than this. Our country needs loving and caring leaders and not divisive elements, diversionists and divisionists. If Nelson Mandela was a Nigerian, he would have killed all his enemies when he came out of 27 years’ incarceration, mainly in solitary confinement. But he chose the path of peace and became the world’s greatest statesman. Why can’t my own people borrow a leaf from such remarkable legacy.

Did our leaders not see or notice the peace the Republic of Kenya currently enjoys after President Uhuru Kenyatta and his arch-rival Raila Odinga embraced publicly and apologized to each other. There is much to gain in true reconciliation, obviously.

Nigeria has been effectively taken over by demons who are engaged in wanton destruction of lives and property. There is no other reason for this than the dearth and death of love in our climes. Nigeria is richly blessed with some of the smartest and loving humans on earth. Yet, we have suddenly become so poor of spirit and so suspicious of one another that the cankerworm of disharmony, distrust and deceit has eaten deep into the fabric and soul of our country.

Nigeria should go in search of anyone who can restore hope and glory to our dear beloved nation. That is why Senator Lawan is such a refreshing breath of fresh air that must be celebrated. I am aware that the recent appointments of his personal aides not only cut across party lines and the political divide, he also avoided parochialism and shunned religious bigotry. He did not save plum appointments for his kinsmen or fellow Moslems. He simply decided to choose those he felt were competent even if he did not personally know them. He worked on the basis of proven ability and diligence and passion for Nigeria. It was his reason for choosing Festus Adedayo. However, those who do not care about this nation, but are egotistical and self-absorbed persons immediately rushed to destroy what would have been an epoch momentous development.

DividingNigeria along political, ethnic and religious lines can only deepen the mortal and fatal wounds we’ve sustained these past few years. Someone needs to rise up stoutly and halt our supersonic slide towards perdition. That someone is no other than President Muhammadu Buhari, who needs to take a leaf from Senator Lawan’s book and be more all-inclusive and all-embracing in appointments, purge himself of sickening acolytes and their rabid viewpoints and proceed to keep Nigeria united, peaceful and prosperous.

President Buhari can still live up to the expectations of those who voted for change in 2015. He has one final opportunity. Indeed, he has entered the last chance train. How he acquits himself this time around may well determine whether Nigeria survives or not!

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Behold! The Asiwaju of Edeland, Gov Ademola Adeleke

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By Eric Elezuo

The ancient town of Ede in Osun State is set to host the who’s who in Nigeria’s political and traditional institutions as the Executive Governor of the state, His Excellency, Senator Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, is installed as the Asiwaju of Edeland.

The one in town event is scheduled to hold on Monday, May 13, 2024 at the Grounds of the Palace of the Timi of Ędę, HRH Oba Adesola Munirudeen Lawal (Laminisa 1), on the same day the governor, who has been termed as ‘performing’ will be celebrating his 64th birthday.

The Asiwaju title was previously held by Governor Adeleke’s elder brother, Isiaka Adeleke, who passed away on April 23, 2017.

Among dignitaries expected at the event are the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, members of the Osun State executive and legislative councils, federal legislators, members of the diplomatic Corps, business men, politicians across the nation, entertainers and the general public.

THE MAN, ADEMOLA JACKSON ADELEKE

He has one of the most jovial personalities, combined with a mien that is down to earth and thoroughly enterprising. Many call him ever smiling senator; some others call him dancing senator while a whole lot of others call him the incoming governor. He is the Senator, who represented Osun West Senatorial district in the Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber between 2015 and 2019. He is Ademola Jackson Adeleke, a distinguished contender for the Osun governorship seat. 

Born of the Adeleke family of Ede in Osun State on May 13, 1960, Adeleke commenced his primary education at Methodist Primary School, Surulere Lagos State before he was privileged to relocate to Old Oyo State to continue his education at Nawarudeen Primary School, Ikire.

Adeleke was born Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke to a Muslim father and Nnena Esther Adeleke, an Igbo Christian mother. Like him, Adeleke’s father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was a Senator and the Balogun of Ede land in Osun State. His father, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was also the leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).

On completion of his primary education, he moved on to The Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, Ede to begin his post primary schooling. In the later years however, he attended Ede Muslim Grammar School Ede, where he completed his secondary school education and subsequently relocated to the United States of America, joining his two older brothers, who were also studying there.

In the United States, he joined Jacksonville State University, Alabama, and studied Criminal Justice, with minor in Political Science.

To prove doubting Thomases, who wiped up controversies around his educational qualification, wrong, he went back to school and got enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 2021.

A businessman and administrator of no mean repute, Adeleke was the humble Group Executive Director at his brother’s company, Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016, where his credible performances shot the company to enviable heights; a height it is still enjoying till date.

It is imperative to note that before he joined Pacific Holdings Limited, Senator Adeleke worked with Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor from 1985 to 1989. His dexterity to work earned him a progression in career, and he berthed as Vice President at Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company. His meritorious stewardship lasted a period of five years, from 1990 to 1994.

Not a few has described Adeleke as the philanthropic capital of Ede, as his influence in aiding the less privileged and downtrodden remains top notch. He is a voracious believer in community development, and has not spared any expense to see that his community receives global influence.

Politically, Adeleke is a beacon of light and hard nut to crack, having remained an albatross to opposing powers and a reference point to ideal administration.

Shortly after he lost his brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who died in April 2017, he contested the Osun West 2017 Senatorial by-election after the death of his brother, emerging as the winner under the Peoples Democratic Party, where he decamped to from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Having emerged senator, Adeleke’s political influence waxed stronger, an on July 23, 2018, he emerged as the governorship candidate of PDP in Osun State after defeating Akin Ogunbiyi by seven votes. Efforts made to deprive him of the mandate was twated by the courts.

Adeleke’s lawyer in his defense claims his secondary school hasn’t come out to deny his testimonial asking the court to dismiss the Case. The court dismissed the suit stating that the plaintiff could not prove Adeleke’s forgery.

Adeleke ran for Osun state governorship election under the PDP against top contenders Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of APC and Iyiola Omisore of SDP on 22 September 2018. The election was declared inconclusive by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) while Adeleke was leading, and a rerun slated on September 27, 2018. The candidate of the APC Oyetola was declared winner after the run-off. Adeleke protested the result describing the election as a “coup”.

Much as on March 22, 2019, the tribunal sitting in Abuja declared Adeleke the winner of the election, the Supreme Court later affirmed Gboyega Oyetola as the authentic winner of the 2018 Osun State governorship election on Friday, July 5, 2019

Popularly known as the Dancing Senator because of his penchant to joyfully react to the sounds of music, Adeleke is uncle to one of Nigeria’s popular musicians, Davido.

Governor Adeleke is married to an equally successful businesswoman and a self-made boss. They are blessed with three children who are all entertainers. They are B-Red and Shina Rambo and a daughter, Nike Adeleke. He is the uncle of one Nigeria’s primus inter pares in entertainment, Davido.

As expected, Adeleke is moving Osun State to the greatest of heights as he promised, and many who know him agree that there are still very many more in the offing.

HIS EXTRAORDINARY EASE OF DOING BUSINESS STRATEGY 

The governor has shared good news on the ease of doing business in the state as follows:

In continuation of our administration’s effort to improve the state economy and encourage the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), we have completed the harmonization of multiple taxes and levies collected by different government departments, agencies, and ministries across all business sectors of the state economy including the informal sectors into a single bill. This Harmonized Bill curates all levies, which businesses are expected to pay on an annual basis as a single bill.

This initiative is to promote ease of doing business by ensuring seamless and convenient payment of levies and taxes due to individuals and businesses across the state in equal or unequal tranches and ensure the issuance of Harmonized Bill Certificate upon completion of payment of the total amount.

I hereby note to all business owners in Osun state both in formal and informal sectors that the official online payment channels for the state is pay.irs.os.gov.ng; POS machines in Tax stations across the state; commercial banks across Nigeria; and Money Transfer Services for those outside Nigeria.

In addition, we have also completed the deployment of Automation System for improved service delivery on payment of rent and lease on government properties; processing of Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) in 45 days; Electronic Affidavit System; Electronic State of Origin and Local Government Area of Origin portal; Mobile tax stations; Online Tax payment system etc.

OFFICIAL PROFILE OF GOVERNOR ADEMOLA ADELEKE, THE NEW ASIWAJU OF EDELAND

Governor Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke, the Executive Governor of Osun state and the new Asiwaju of Edeland is a pan Nigerian by birth, by philosophy and by worldview. Born at Enugu as a son of independence on 13th May, 1960, the new Ede frontliner widely acknowledged as the Olosun of Osun is a tactical politician, a businessman, show business activist and a humanist within philanthropism. The ever lively, urbane scion of the Adeleke family of Ede North Local Government is an innovative entrepreneur, a grassroot political figure and a strong advocate of good governance, then as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and now as the Governor of Osun State.

From his childhood, the Asiwaju is a man of complex character, a young man with multiplicity of talents and an adult with widely praised open heart, strong will and constancy of adaptation to ideas and innovations. From his secondary education at Ede Muslim Grammar School to his sojourn to the United States and tertiary education at the Jacksonville State University, Alabama where he majored in criminal justice, the Ede frontliner demonstrated deep business interest, unconventional approach and a rare mastery of intricacies of politics, business and social life.

Despite hailing from a well to do family, the Asiwaju was in the United States and Nigeria, a man in search of opportunities for self growth and advancement. His passion for self development and business prosperity occasioned his joining the Quicksilver Courier Company in Atlanta, Georgia, US, as a service contractor between 1985–1989. He progressed to Origin International LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, US, a flavours and fragrance manufacturing company where he served as Vice President from 1990 to 1994.

A suave businessman and administrator, he served as a Director of Guiness Nigeria Limited between 1992- 1999 where he contributed immensely to the expansion of the multinational company. He was later appointed Group Executive Director of Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016. Senator Adeleke is also an acclaimed creative Industry entrepreneur and mentor. As a talented creative figure, he mentored world rated ace musicians while his family members and children are leading stars in the global music industry.

As a man ever restless in pursuit of self growth and opportunities, the Asiwaju again opted to restart his educational sojourn which he suspended because of business and entrepreneurial preoccupations. In 2019 after he was rigged out of a governorship election he clearly won, Governor Adeleke, in a can do spirit, re-enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the United States and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice in 2021.

All along and considering his family background, the frontliner was for years both a political servant and leader, learning the rope from his father (Senator Ayoola Adeleke) , a second republic progressive Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his brother, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, the First Executive Governor of Osun State. His business teeth were sharpened by his brother, the global business mogul, Dr Adedeji Adeleke while his political potency was strengthened by his sister, the Yeyeluwa of Edeland, Chief (Mrs) Dupe Adeleke- Sanni. The celebrant of today was eventually elected the President of the Adeleke dynasty, representing the sons and daughters of the great Adeleke family at home and abroad.

Having been thus fortified by his innate personality, his family background and his multifaceted experience, his political participation predated 1991 but he took the front seat in 2017 when he was elected with a landslide victory as a Senator for Osun West Senatorial District in 2017. His popularity reached a peak when he won the Osun 2018 governorship election before the open rigging and manipulation that was globally condemned.

As a man of steel character, the frontliner took the gauntlet again in 2022 and beat the incumbent to reclaim the stolen mandate of 2018. Imole as the Governor is popularly known has since been delivering on good governance, winning applause and praises from far and near.

In December 2023, he was honoured with a doctorate degree by the Valley View University, Accra, Ghana. The Vice Chancellor lauded the Governor’s multi-million naira education scholarship as a Senator, his sterling records on workers welfare as a Governor, his performance on infrastructure upgrades and his commitment to due process, rule of law and fear of God.

He has received several awards including the Governor of the Year Award by Champion newspapers in 2023, Sahel Standard Man of the Year in 2022, Vanguard Newspaper Governor of the Year on Infrastructure and a host of other recognition. The frontliner serves on several national governmental committees including being the representative of the South West on the National Minimum Wage Committee.

The new Asiwaju of Edeland is a strong family man, an avid sport lover, a man of God and a David of our time with incessant passion for praise singing and adulation of God Almighty.

Courtesy: Governor’s Office, 2024.

By this new office, Governor Adeleke is now the one who leads in Edeland, and is expected to use his office to better the lot of the people of Ede.

Congratulations sir!

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You’re Non-Existent, Fubara Tells Amaewhule-led Rivers Assembly

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Rivers State Governor, Similaya Fubara, has taken a swipe at the Martin Amaewhule-led group of lawmakers at the state House of Assembly and declared that they do not exist anymore in the eyes of the law.

“Let me say it here, those groups of men who claim that they are assembly members, they do not exist. I want it to be on the record,” Fubara declared

The governor stated this when he received on courtesy visit the Bayelsa State delegation of political and traditional leaders, led by former Governor of the State, Senator Seriake Dickson, at Government House in Port Harcourt on Monday.

Fubara and 26 members of the assembly loyal to former governor, Nyesom Wike, have been at loggerheads after the move to impeach the governor was thwarted.

He told the delegation that he has been showing restraint since the political crisis escalated in the state.

The governor further stated that despite wielding state powers that he can deploy to achieve his aim, he has continued to act as the big brother in the face of intimidation and unwarranted attacks.

“So, I want you to see the sacrifice I have made to allow peace to be in our state. I can say here, with all amount of boldness, I have never called any policeman anywhere to go and harass anybody.

“I have never gone anywhere to ask anybody to do anything against anybody. But what happens to the people that are supporting me? They are being harassed, they are being arrested and detained.

“There is no week that somebody doesn’t come here with one letter of invitation for trump-up charges and all those things,” he said.

The governor added, “I am saying all these because of what my senior said here. I don’t think the other party has shown any restraint. I am the one who has shown restraint in the face of this crisis.

“I am the one that is badly hit, even when I have all the government instruments to shake up the table. But, why will I do it? I believe that peace is the best relationship to cultivate.”

He revealed that he had always been present at any meeting that was called to resolve the crisis in the state but after each meeting, he was met with a new dimension of the crisis from the opposing side.

He, however, vowed to continue to be peaceful, acknowledging that power is transient.

“We might have our division, but I believe that one day, we could also come together, but it has gotten to a time when I have to make a statement that they are not existing. Their existence is me allowing them to exist. If I de-recognize them, they are nowhere. I want you to see the sacrifice I have made in allowing peace to reign in our state,” he concluded.

The Punch

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Yahaya Bello vs EFCC: The Tussle Continues

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By Eric Elezuo

With the declaration of the Apppeal Court, sitting in Abuja over the weekend, ordering a stay of proceedings in the contempt charge instituted by Yahaya Bello, former Kogi governor, against Ola Olukoyede, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the stage seems set for an elongation of legal fireworks between the two feuding entities.

The declaration was a follow-up of Bello, who approached the Kogi High Court, seeking an order to issue and serve the respondent (EFCC chairman) with “form 49 notice” to show cause why an order of committal should not be made on him.

The judge, after listening to the arguments of the applicant’s counsel, the submission and the exhibits attached in the written address, granted Bello’s prayers and ordered Olukoyede to be summoned to appear before the court to answer the contempt charge.

However, while it is believed that the crisis of apprehending the former governor for prosecution is an institutional matter, many on the other hand, has accused the EFCC chairman of attaching a lot of personal interest in the matter going by the way he is fighting tooth and nail to see Bello in custody.

In a chat with editors at the EFCC Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, the anti-graft agency chairman swore to follow the prosecution of Bello to the logical conclusion.

He also vowed that all those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to justice.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

“If I do not personally oversee the completion of the investigation regarding Yahaya Bello, I will tender my resignation as the EFCC Chairman,” Mr Olukoyede had vowed, adding that those who obstructed the arrest of the former governor would be brought to book. This was a veiled accusation against the governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, who used security agents to forestall the arrest of Bello in Abuja.

Olukoyede had also accused Bello of paying his children’s school fees upfront with funds from the atatae coffers.

“A sitting governor moved $720,000 directly from the government account to the Bureau de Change and used it to pay for the school fees of his child in advance in a poor state like Kogi, and you want me close my eyes under the guise that I’m being used. Use by who? At this stage of my life? By who for crying out loud?

“I didn’t initiate the case, I inherited the case file,” he retorted.

The EFCC had sought to arrest Yahaya Bello following his absence from court, and an order by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja after his absence in court.

He was absent from court for his arraignment on a 19-count charge of alleged money laundering to the tune of ₦80bn.

The judge relied on sections 384(4) and (5) of the Administrative and Criminal Justice Act 2015, directing the counsel to the immediate past governor to receive a copy of the charge.

The court held that where it had become impossible to effect personal service of a legal process on a defendant, such could be done through substituted means.

Justice Nwite further held that it was clear that the former governor failed to appear in court for his arraignment.

Notable minds including veteran journalist, Dele Momodu; human advocate and constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome among others have said that the brazen nature with which Olukoyede is going about the matter smacks of personal vendetta, noting that now that the court of appeal has ordered a stay of execution of the contempt of court charges against Olukoyede, everyone must maintain status quotes, and allow Bello to respond to court summon, as the case is now between him and the court of Justice Nwite.

On his part, Momodu has lashed out at the EFCC for selective prosecution, wondering if Olukoyede has any personal stake in the matter, adding that generally the EFCC misfired in the Bello saga.

He said in part, during his Instagram live show:

“I don’t work for EFCC but from all the things that I have read, a lot of them, they misfired. That is the honest truth. They misfired. They didn’t do their due diligence. When you said a man took out money and paid for his children’s school fees, just as he was about to leave power, and you go and check the documents and you see that these things started happening from 2021, 2022 (laughs); I am not an illiterate.

“How do you expect me to believe everything they said when they were too much in a hurry to prosecute him that they did not take their time to check the file. Once you allow a lacuna in law, everything will fall flat.

“That is it. I am not one of those people who will say because I don’t like APC and because I supported Dino Melaye in the last election in Kogi State. Dino is my guy. But, I will not because of that be blinded by hatred for Yahaya Bello and say yes, he should go and surrender himself to EFCC when there is an existing injunction.

“And he is not the only governor who went to court and if the court has granted him that, so be it. We all know that our judiciary is not so perfect but you know, even at that, law is law, it must be obeyed. If we disobey the rule of law, then, we will have to obey the rule of the jungle. So, I never said that they are lying, it is their own statement that shows that they didn’t do their due diligence.”

TheCable, in its report, recalled that “a Kogi State high court presided over by Isa Jamil Abdullahi, had ordered Olukoyede to appear before it on May 13 to show why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly disobeying its order restraining the EFCC from arresting or taking any action against Bello.

“However, the EFCC chairman filed an appeal against the court summon.

“Olukoyede filed two motions, one seeking a stay of execution of the summon, and another one asking to serve processes on Bello via substituted means by pasting the process at his Abuja residence on No 9 Bengazi Steet Wuse Zone 4.

“In its ruling, a three-member panel of justices led by Joseph Oyewole granted the two motions.

“The appellate court fixed May 20 for the hearing of the substantive appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/413/2024.

“Bello had on February 8, 2024, instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit, asking the court to declare that “the incessant harassment, threats of arrest and detention, negative press releases, malicious prosecution” by the EFCC, “without any formal invitation, is politically motivated and interference with his right to liberty, freedom of movement, and fair hearing”.

“The former governor also sought an order “restraining the respondent by themselves, their agents, servants or privies from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain him”.

“On February 9, the Kogi high court granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from “continuing to harass, threaten to arrest, detain, prosecute Bello, his former appointees, and his staff or family members, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion for the enforcement of his fundamental rights”.

On March 12, the EFCC filed an appeal against the interim injunction because the court could not stop the commission from carrying out its statutory responsibility.

The Kogi high court delivered judgment on the substantive motion on notice on April 17 wherein the presiding judge granted an order restraining the EFCC “from continuing to harass, threaten to arrest or detain Bello”.

However, the judge directed the commission to file a charge against Bello before an appropriate court if it had reasons to do so.

The judgment coincided with the recent “siege” laid on the Abuja residence of  Bello by EFCC operatives seeking to arrest him.

The commission had also obtained a warrant of arrest against the former governor from the federal high court in Abuja.

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

At the scheduled arraignment on April 18, Bello was absent.

At the court session, Abdulwahab Mohammed, counsel to Bello, told  Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the warrant of arrest in the first instance.

He referenced the February 9 interim injunction issued by the Kogi high court, adding that the appeal filed by the EFCC was still pending.

However, the EFCC has filed a notice to withdraw the appeal.

In the notice filed on April 22, the anti-graft agency said the withdrawal was predicated on the fact that events have overtaken the appeal.

The commission also admitted that the appeal was filed out of the time allowed by law.

With the present status, legal minds are of the opinion that matters have returned to status quo, and Justice Emeka Nwite, reserved the right to order Bello’s appearance in court, and await his appearance before any other injunction can be  made.

“For now, it is not about who won or who did not. The matters of the case rest with the invitation of Bello by Justice Nwite. Bello was absent during his first summon, and the case was adjourned. So, everyone has to keep the calm and wait for the next hearing and see if he appears or not as directly by his lordship,” Ozekhome noted.

As it is therefore, May 20 will be a deciding factor for both Bello and EFCC as the tussle for who laughs last continues.

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