Fri, 19 Apr 2024 Feature Article

A Psychologist's Counsel to Yahaya Bello

Drive Directly to the EFCC or Police Building and Voluntarily Surrender Yourself? It's Better to be Alive than Shot as a Fugitive
Yahaya BelloYahaya Bello

In Nigeria's dynamic political landscape, the 2022 All Progressives Congress Convention in Abuja was a defining moment. As Asiwaju Bola Tinubu secured victory for the party's presidential candidacy, the entrenched dynamics of Nigerian politics were laid bare.

Against this backdrop, former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello emerged as a symbol of unwavering determination. Unlike his peers who bowed out before the primaries, Bello refused to retreat, steadfastly pursuing his candidacy despite formidable opposition. While Tinubu ascended to triumph, Bello's defiance reverberated throughout Nigerian politics, leaving an indelible mark on the political landscape.

Despite his perceived strong public appeal and significant media spending leading up to the All Progressives Congress presidential primary, Yahaya Bello fell short of winning the support of his state's 63 delegates, securing only 47 votes. Bello had touted his ability to secure the party's ticket, emphasizing his national appeal as the best candidate. Supported by grassroots youth-based organizers and benefiting from extensive media advertising, Bello's electoral outcome did not align with his campaign efforts. Furthermore, his refusal to withdraw his candidacy for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu during the primary underscored his resolute nature, revealing a man who does not easily yield. Despite being hailed as a champion for youth leadership, Bello's actions ultimately mirrored those of his seasoned counterparts, emphasizing self-interest above all else.

During his eight-year tenure as governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Adoza Bello faced allegations of corruption, a common issue in Nigerian politics. These accusations, however, were not unique to him; corruption allegations have touched even the highest echelons of power, including the presidency. Upon leaving office, Bello's immunity ended, exposing him to legal consequences. The EFCC promptly charged him, along with his nephew and two others, for alleged money laundering totaling N84 billion. The case was brought before the Federal High Court in Abuja on March 14, 2024. Despite Bello's evasion, his nephew and one other defendant pleaded not guilty. Additionally, like many others in power, Bello ensured a smooth transition by influencing the so-called election of his successor, the current Kogi governor, Usman Ododo. Such actions are often perceived as attempts to shield past and present misdeeds, highlighting the pervasive nature of corruption in governance. Furthermore, while those currently in power may be viewed as equally corrupt, if not worse, the reality remains that Bello cannot continue evading accountability indefinitely.

In a bizarre twist of legal maneuvering, just as Yahaya Bello sought an unusual type of court order for protection, the EFCC obtained its own warrant for his arrest. This peculiar power play underscores the complex dynamics at play in Nigeria's political landscape.

With his continued evasion and refusal to submit himself, Yahaya Bello, like many others, sought legal protection. A senior lawyer, SAN, was engaged to secure a court order barring law enforcement from arresting him. However, in a dramatic turn of events within the last 24 hours, reports emerged of gunshots fired at Bello's Abuja residence. Current Kogi governor, Usman Ododo, allegedly assisted Bello in evading arrest by personnel from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Despite EFCC's attempts, aided by a siege on his residence, Ododo's intervention led to a tense confrontation marked by gunfire. Bello, facing charges of financial fraud amounting to N84 billion, had reportedly been tracked to his hideout in Abuja by the EFCC. Ododo, assisted by police, purportedly facilitated Bello's escape. Moreover, reports indicate that thugs joined in resisting the EFCC's efforts, highlighting the extent of resistance faced by law enforcement agencies in tackling corruption. This event underscores the intensity of the legal battle surrounding Bello and the lengths to which individuals may go to evade accountability.

By the way, have you seen the size of the mansion Bello was living in Abuja? It's massive! How does a governor, who's just on a salary and a public servant, manage to afford or build such a place? It's mind-boggling, isn't it? It's a common corrupt practice among them all—come to Abuja and acquire one of these extravagant properties.

Bello's entanglement in corruption underscores deeper systemic issues within Nigeria's leadership. The judiciary, clouded by allegations of corruption, operates within a nepotistic framework, with the nation's supreme chief justice even appointing his own children as judges. This nepotism seeps into the presidency of the Court of Appeals, perpetuating favoritism and compromised justice. Despite numerous lingering accusations and investigations involving both active and inactive government officials by bodies like the EFCC and the police over several years, Bello currently stands as the epicenter of this web of corruption. His case epitomizes the pervasive challenges that undermine the rule of law in Nigeria.

In a society where the rule of law seems to hold little sway, the government under Tinubu's administration is gearing up to confront former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello. Bello now faces heightened scrutiny as the Federal Government places him on a watchlist, citing his alleged involvement in economic and financial crimes totaling N80.2 billion. This designation grants security agencies, including the Nigeria Immigration Service, the authority to apprehend him at any point of entry or departure. Amidst ongoing prosecution before the Federal High Court in Abuja, where charges include conspiracy, breach of trust, and money laundering, Bello remains wanted by the EFCC. Recent events have seen EFCC officials attempting to besiege Bello's residence in Abuja, only for him to reportedly evade capture, further complicating his legal predicament.

The intensified pursuit of Bello by the EFCC has sparked concerns about the state of democracy in Nigeria. EFCC lawyer Kemi Pinheiro, issued a stark warning, indicating the agency's readiness to employ military force if necessary to apprehend him. This threat, amid Bello's evasion, raises questions about the rule of law and the use of coercive measures in law enforcement. Pinheiro's assertion that immunity does not extend to a building highlights the agency's resolve to enforce accountability, even through unconventional means. However, such statements evoke unease regarding the potential militarization of law enforcement and the erosion of democratic principles. These unfolding events underscore the delicate balance between combating corruption and upholding democratic norms, revealing the challenges confronting Nigeria's legal and political landscape.

The submission to involve the military, as suggested by EFCC lawyer Kemi Pinheiro, sparks understandable skepticism, especially in a country striving to uphold democratic principles. Yet, the stark reality of Bello's situation demands a closer examination of the chaos unfolding at his Abuja residence. In the face of a lawful arrest orchestrated by the EFCC, the response from both the police and thugs is nothing short of defiance, laying bare the profound challenges law enforcement faces in upholding the rule of law. This harrowing episode serves as a poignant reminder of the complex web of obstacles woven into Nigeria's political landscape, where even lawful endeavors encounter fierce resistance.

In a damning critique titled "Tinubu’s Governance Circus: Nigeria in Crisis as Police Halt EFCC, Gunshots Mark Bello’s ‘Great Escape’," I highlight the deafening silence surrounding the tumultuous events. Despite conflicting court orders and blatant obstruction by the police in the lawful pursuit of Bello's arrest, impunity prevails. In any other rational society, such actions would prompt swift repercussions, possibly leading to the resignation of high-ranking officials. However, in Nigeria's political realm, accountability remains a distant ideal, reserved for the privileged few. This entrenched culture of impunity is like a festering wound, rotting away at the very core of Nigeria's governance. It's a damning indictment of the corruption and injustice that has infiltrated every corner of power, poisoning the nation's essence. And just when you think it couldn't get any more absurd, the Attorney General of the Federation finally decides to chime in, urging Bello to stop playing hide and seek with the authorities. It's like a scene from a comedy, but unfortunately, it's our reality.

As the world watches this circus unfold, perhaps it's time for President Tinubu to step in and bring some semblance of sanity. Picture this: a gathering of Yoruba heavyweights, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, and the EFCC Chief, all sitting down to a lavish spread of Amala, ewedun, gbegiri soup, pomo, and shaki. But amidst the feast, Tinubu must channel his inner truth-teller, reminding them of their duty as guardians of the rule of law. He needs to shake them out of their lethargy, emphasizing that while they feast, the nation is burning legally beneath their feet. It's time to extinguish the flames of corruption, ethnicity be damned.

As a psychologist, observing the unfolding drama, I recognize that those pursuing Bello are not devoid of their own hullabaloos or wahalas. Bello is now caught in a precarious situation. Branded as "wanted" by the Federal Government, he faces the combined might of multiple security agencies poised to apprehend him. This isn't merely an EFCC matter; it represents a comprehensive response involving entities such as the police, Department of State Services, National Intelligence Agency, and Nigeria Immigration Service. The seriousness of this situation underscores the fragile equilibrium between accountability and the gradual erosion of democratic principles. It's a stark reminder of the daunting obstacles confronting Nigeria's governance, emphasizing the urgent imperative for a resilient and transparent legal framework.

In light of this, I caution Bello to consider a different approach: why not, accompanied by his lawyer, drive directly to the EFCC or police building and voluntarily surrender himself? This action could potentially mitigate further escalation and allow him to address the accusations against him within the bounds of the law. It's better to be alive and take advantage of a potentially corrupt justice system. As usual, he can assemble a team of top-notch lawyers to defend him. After all, there's little one can do if they shoot you as a runaway. Oya, take yourself and your SANs to the nearest EFCC office, do it now ooo!