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EFCC Chairman Unveils Alleged $720,000 Illegal Transfer by Former Governor Yahaya Bello

ABUJA—In a revealing interview on Tuesday, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, disclosed that the former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, is accused of illegally transferring $720,000 from state funds to a bureau de change to cover his child’s future school fees before his tenure ended.

During the session with journalists in Abuja, Olukoyede expressed his dismay over the alleged misappropriation, emphasizing the gravity of such actions in a state grappling with economic challenges. “In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?” he questioned.

The Allegation:

Olukoyede highlighted that this transfer was made in anticipation of Bello’s departure from office, framing it as a preemptive misuse of public funds for personal benefit. This act is part of a larger case against Bello, who faces 19 counts of alleged money laundering and misappropriation of funds totaling N80.2 billion.

EFCC’s Approach:

The EFCC chairman also shared details of his personal outreach to Bello, offering him an opportunity to explain his side of the story in a dignified manner. According to Olukoyede, Bello declined the offer, citing fears of harassment by an unspecified woman allegedly mobilizing a crowd against him. Bello instead suggested that EFCC officials visit his village for the inquiry, a proposal that Olukoyede found less practical.

“I said if that is the issue, I’m going to pass you through my own gate, and you will come to my floor. We will accord you that respect. I will invite my operatives; they will interrogate and interview you in my own office. What could be more honourable than that to allay the fear?” Olukoyede recounted. Bello’s response was still non-committal.

EFCC’s Record Under Olukoyede:

Highlighting the successes under his leadership, Olukoyede noted that the EFCC has secured over 1,600 convictions and recovered approximately 120 billion Naira in six months. “We have wiped tears off their eyes, people that have been swindled in their millions. Every day, we keep recovering money for victims,” he stated, underscoring the importance of the EFCC’s mission in Nigeria’s socio-economic landscape.

Implications and Public Response:

The public and political response to these revelations will be crucial. Olukoyede has previously vowed to resign if Bello is not prosecuted, setting a high stake for the outcome of this case. This declaration has heightened interest in Bello’s prosecution, seen as a litmus test for Nigeria’s judicial and anti-corruption systems.

As the situation unfolds, the EFCC’s efforts to hold influential figures accountable are being closely watched both domestically and internationally, highlighting the ongoing challenges and efforts in combating corruption within Nigeria.

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