Absence of formal invitation: EFCC’s invasion of Bello’s residence is oppression, persecution – Coalition

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A coalition of Civil Society Organisations has kicked against the increasing media trial of the immediate past Governor of Kogi State by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, saying the development is “grossly unprofessional and uncalled for.”

The No Corruption Coalition, at a press conference on Thursday in Lagos, said it decided to add its voice to call for the respect of the rule of law, owing to the growing concern about the recent avoidable crisis between the Commission and the Governor.

The acitivists said the outburst of the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, which revealed that no formal letter of invitation was extended to ex-Gov Bello, had shown clearly that the operation the EFCC operatives went to carry out in his house was illegal and had “no other interpretation than oppression, persecution and political witchunt.”

The Convener of the Coalition, Comrade Akintunde Adedeji (a.k.a Boosecart), said members of the coalition were not questioning the constitutional mandate of the EFCC to investigate and prosecute corruption matters.

“But the attitude of the Chairman has given a lot of credence to the suspicions in some quarters that the Commission is doing the bidding of some powerful interests around the presidency to politically persecute former Governor Yahaya Bello,” he said.

They criticised the EFCC boss for allowing emotions to take over his job, saying he should go to court and marshal his points in the presence of a judge rather than engaging in aggressive media blackmail of the defendant.

Adedeji said, “Part of the obnoxious media trials includes sending lawyers to TV stations to go and turn law upside down by claiming that the Commission can violate court orders at will. This won’t help them at all. Everyone is in court now, so the status quo must be maintained. That’s a decent way to go about.

“Considering the premeditated media trials and threats to the defendant’s life through military invasion, we demand that the Federal Government apologise to Yahaya Bello. From the outburst of the EFCC’s Chairman, Barrister Olukoyede, it has shown clearly that the operation they went to carry out in his house was illegal and has no other interpretation than oppression, persecution and political witchunt.

“The withdrawal of the Appeal also shows that they knew a case was pending when they laid siege on his house in the desperate bid to detain him without respect for lawful court orders on his fundamental human rights as guaranteed under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.”

On Olukoyede’s alleged media trial, the Coalition stated, “If the head of an agency investigating your case is taking the case so personal, as to be engaging in such emotional outbursts, it is already clear that it is persecution.

“You told Someone to come through the backdoor, and he said, no, he is not a thief, he would rather come through the front door. But do things according to the law. For that he has incurred your wrath. Where is justice in this scenario?

“Yahaya Bello may not have constitutional immunity anymore, but he has his humanity. We demand that his humanity be respected and he deserves some respect as a former chief executive of a state in this country without prejudice to the allegations against him.

“Until he is convicted by a Court of competent jurisdiction, EFCC should stop its maligning campaigns of blackmail via incessant media trials. The consistent procurement of lawyers willing to throw away their honor in order to compromise the spirit and letter of our laws and, through deliberate mischief, misinterpret the law to suit the persecution agenda of their masters, has further exposed the fact that what’s currently ongoing is nothing but political witch-hunting.”

“For how long are the authorities willing to go to continue bastardizing out legal procedures and rubbishing our courts? For how long will a mere suspect be treated like a terrorist and hounded like a common criminal? For how long will wielders of state power continue to misuse it? We will not sit idle and allow rule of law truncated without fighting to save our democracy.

“We demand that all parties to this dispute revert to the hallowed chambers of court rooms and be guided strictly by the decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction.

“Until that happens, Yahaya Bello must be treated like a free citizen of this country that he is,” the Coalition said.




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