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CSOs decry EFCC’s alleged anti-democratic tactics in Yahaya Bello case

Civil Society Voices Concern Over Federal Government's Handling of Ex-Governor's Legal Dispute

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Several civil society organizations (CSOs) have raised alarm over what they perceive as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) heavy-handed approach towards former Kogi governor Yahaya Bello, condemning it as a threat to democratic principles. The CSOs, comprising over 120 groups, voiced their discontent during a rally in Lagos, decrying what they see as the unjust exercise of state power by the Federal Government in its ongoing clash with the ex-governor.

Led by prominent figures including Debo Adeniran of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, the CSOs expressed outrage at the EFCC’s issuance of a notice declaring Bello wanted for alleged money laundering amounting to N80.2bn. They also criticized the withdrawal of police officers assigned to Bello by Inspector General Kayode Egbetokun, viewing it as an affront to due process and the rule of law.

Adeniran, addressing the crowd, highlighted the absence of a formal invitation from the EFCC to Bello, asserting that allegations of evasion were baseless in light of a valid court order shielding him from arrest pending the resolution of ongoing legal proceedings. He warned against the erosion of judicial integrity and pledged to mobilize broader support if the government persisted in flouting legal norms.

The CSOs called upon the Federal Government to respect court orders and uphold the sanctity of the judicial process, cautioning against the potential repercussions of disregarding legal safeguards. Gbenga Soloki, another prominent activist, warned against the militarization of civil disputes, urging the government to reconsider its approach to the case.

The unfolding standoff between the EFCC and Bello has ignited concerns about the erosion of democratic norms and the impartial application of justice in Nigeria. As tensions escalate, civil society remains vigilant, advocating for adherence to constitutional principles and the preservation of democratic institutions.

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