EFCC Files Motion To Stay Execution Of Ruling Linked To Yahaya Bello

In a recent development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a motion for a stay of execution regarding a ruling by Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos. The ruling pertains to 14 properties and the sum of N400 million linked to Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

Justice Oweibo, on April 26, 2023, had struck out the EFCC’s suit seeking the final forfeiture of the properties, citing the provisions of Section 308(1) of the Constitution. The judge determined that due to the immunity granted to sitting governors, the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter, resulting in the suit being struck out.

During the recent court sitting, counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, informed the court about an application dated April 27, 2023, seeking a stay of execution of the ruling pending the outcome of the appeal on the case. However, the respondent’s counsel, Akoh Ocheni, filed an application to strike out the EFCC’s application for stay of execution, citing non-compliance with the court’s rules.

Oyedepo assured the court that a written address was filed on the same day as the application and presented a copy as evidence. He further stated that the proceedings were now before the Court of Appeal.

Justice Oweibo adjourned the matter sine die, indicating that it is postponed indefinitely until further notice.

Immunity and Jurisdiction

The ruling by Justice Oweibo hinged on the interpretation of Section 308 of the Constitution, which provides immunity to sitting governors from civil and criminal prosecution. This subheading delves into the legal complexities surrounding the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the matter and the implications of immunity on the EFCC’s pursuit of the case.

Interim Forfeiture and Preservation Order

Justice Oweibo had previously granted an interim forfeiture of the properties in Lagos, Abuja, and the United Arab Emirates. This subheading explores the circumstances that led to the preservation order and the allegations of unlawfully acquired funds associated with the properties. It also highlights the arguments presented by both the EFCC and Governor Bello’s counsel regarding the origins of the properties and the state’s right to investigate financial crimes.

Appeal and Alleged Errors

Following the striking out of the suit by Justice Oweibo, the EFCC filed an appeal challenging the ruling. This subheading sheds light on the grounds for the appeal, including the interpretation of Section 308 of the Constitution and the court’s refusal to align with previous legal precedents. It outlines the EFCC’s arguments against the ruling and highlights the alleged errors committed by Justice Oweibo.

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