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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Yahaya Bello:  Appeal Court Quashes 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”

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 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 ”.

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 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  finally laid to rest the charges of Bello against the EFCC and its Chairman.

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