Kogi Governor urges court to return 14 properties after denying ownership

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Abuja, March 29, 2023- After several months of denying ownership of 14 properties seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, on Tuesday approached the Federal High Court, Lagos to retrieve the properties the anti-graft agency seized with N400 million.

The EFCC had seized the properties consequent upon the order of the court in February following several months of investigations which uncovered alleged theft of public funds and illegal acquisitions of properties through public funds.

Relying on Sections 9 and 10 of the Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022, the EFCC had seized the properties Bello allegedly acquired through corrupt acts, including Hotel Apartment Community and Burj Khalifa, situated at, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai U.A.E.

The EFCC said the properties including several dozens of other illegal acquisitions “were reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity.”

Bello, who had claimed he was being politically targeted in view of his interest in the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had accused the anti-graft agency of “chasing shadows.”

But on Tuesday, the governor through his counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, approached the court for an order to free his properties and money seized by the EFCC.

He listed the entire properties EFCC was granted the power to seize by the court as his before Justice Nicholas Oweibo.

The Kogi State Governor, argued that, “We have an application subject to your lordship’s convenience. We are ready to move the application. It was filed on March 9, 2023.

“The application is seeking your indulgence to vacate the order of the court made on the 22nd of February, 2023.

According to Bello, the properties sought to be forfeited were acquired before he became the Governor of the state and that the Commission lacked the power to proceed against him as he enjoys immunity under the constitution.

“By virtue of the position of the applicant (Kogi State Governor), you cannot proceed against him under any law, according to Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution.

“If you want to prosecute or forfeit his properties, you have to wait till he no longer enjoys those benefits of a Governor,” the governor’s lawyer argued.

But the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, informed the court that the preservation order had been published in a national daily, in line with the court’s directive.

“We were directed to make a publication of the said Order and we have complied with the order of the court,” Oyedepo said. (Courtesy: TheWhistler)

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