Appeal Court Quashes Yahaya Bello’s Contempt Charge against EFCC, Olukoyede

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja has quashed a previous ruling made by a Kogi State High Court against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, concerning a contempt case and restraining order filed by former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.

In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Joseph O.K. Oyewole, the appellate court on Thursday, June 13, 2024 held that “ a court of law cannot preclude the EFCC or any Law Enforcement Agency from investigating and prosecuting crime. This is a fundamental jurisdictional point that cannot be shoved aside as it borders on the doctrine of separation of powers. The argument of the Respondent that no ground covers this point cannot stand in view of the instant circumstance”

It would be recalled that the EFCC had approached the Court of Appeal to halt the execution of an order of Justice Isa Jamil of the Kogi State High Court summoning Olukoyede to defend allegations of disobedience of court orders. Besides, the Commission also challenged another order of the court restraining it from harassing, arresting or detaining Bello pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The appellate court on Thursday allowed the EFCC’s appeal and overruled Bello’s preliminary objection. The court was of the view that it should not be drawn into the well of technicalities and granted the Commission the authority to continue its prosecution of Bello. It also awarded a fine of N1,000, 000( One Million Naira) against the former governor.

Justice Jamil had on April 25, 2024 in an exparte ruling ordered that Olukoyede should be summoned to appear before him to answer to a contempt charge. According to him, Bello tendered exhibits before his court that Olukoyede and the EFCC “carried out some acts upon which they have been restrained by this Court on February 9, 2024 pending the determination of the substantive motion on Notice before this Court ”.

Miffed by the order of the Kogi High Court, Olukoyede approached the appellate court to challenge the lower court’s order with the aim of setting it aside. The Thursday judgment of the Court of Appeal according to Dele Oyewale, EFCC, Head, Media & Publicity “Finally laid to rest the charges of Bello against the EFCC and its Chairman”.

Meanwhile, Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede has disclosed while on a courtesy visit to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has greatly shown immense political will in the fight against economic and financial crimes by not interfering in the works of the Commission.

According to him “since I was appointed the Chairman of the EFCC, the President has never called me to stop, impose, dictate or prescribe any directive as regards the affairs or activities of the Commission, rather the anti-graft agency has so far enjoyed adequate support needed from the Federal Government towards achieving the mandate of the Commission”.

The EFCC’s boss told the Ooni of Ife that given the autonomy the Commission has gotten so far, “I can assure Nigerians that the EFCC will stop at nothing to curb if not eradicate corruption in the country and hold political office holders accountable for their activities regarding the management of the resources that are meant to better the lives of Nigerians”.

He added that President Tinubu has continued to support him immensely in the way and manner needed for the Commission to achieve its mandate despite all unhealthy complaints and criticisms coming from some elites and political office holders in the country.”

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