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The attention of the country has drawn to the current stand off between the EX- Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) as the Operatives of the commission laid siege on the home of the former Governor in Abuja in an attempt to arrest him for alleged theft of over eighty billion, last week.
Before the Abuja episode, it was a known fact that the relationship between the Agency and the former Governor had always been cantankerous while he was in office as Governor of Kogi State.

Prior to that time, the agency had already charged the nephew of the former governor, Ali Bello who is now the Chief of Staff to Court over allegations of Financial misappropriation.

The episode had opened a floodgate of opinions both for and against the two as expressed by legal minds on the legality or otherwise of the action of the EFCC.

It is an established fact that the former Governor, Yahaya Bello had secured a restraining order from the Lokoja high court barring the EFCC from arresting, intimidating and detaining him until after the determination of the case.

The Commission in reaction to the restraining order, according to reports had approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja division to set aside the Kogi State High Court order.

The question then is why would the Commission despite the pending appeal they instituted, jettisoned the legal process and decided to effect the arrest of the former governor by illegal means or what Bello’s sympathisers called Black market arrangement?

In a matter like this, the legal opinions of some eminent jurists are necessary to help the people understand the crux of the matter.

But, unfortunately, some of the jurists’ legal opinions made those who depend on them to make understanding of the matter more confused.

One of such opinions was the one expressed by a leading human rights lawyer, Femi Falana.

While speaking, on Channels Television programme, Politics Today, Falana said no state High Court has right to issue orders restraining federal agencies from carrying out their functions.

Falana’s position is confusing because what he canvassed was at variance with his former position on a similar matters before this time.
For example, while commenting on the same Television programme on the matter of Governor Similaye Fubara of Rivers State and the River’s State House of Assembly when the then factional Speaker Rt. Honourable Ehie leading only four members to secure an injunction against the other faction with twenty-seven members who defected from the People’s Democratic Party to All Progressives Congress going ahead to pass the State budget,

Falana, in defending the actions of the four lawmakers who had a court order against the defecting lawmakers, maintained that an order of court no matter how useless and irrespective of the class of the Court granting it, it remains the law and valid until it is set aside by a superior Court.

The respected Human Rights lawyer seems to have bitten his tongue this time around by jettisoning his earlier position and supporting the action of EFCC against Yahaya Bello when there is a subsisting Court order restraining the commission from arresting the former governor.

Femi Falana needs to explain to his Nigerians if there are two sets of laws on the same matter? The laws that worked for Governor Fubara in Rivers State should also work for Ex-Governor Yahaya Bello in Kogi state. As the saying goes, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Since Falana has abandoned his earlier position on Court orders because Yahaya Bello is involved, some other legal minds who have chosen to remain with the law no other whose ox is gored are still maintaining that once an order of court is in force, it must be obeyed untill it is set aside by a competent jurisdiction.

One of such legal minds is Professor Agbo madaki of the Faculty of Law, Baze University, Abuja In dismissing the argument of EFCC to the fact that Yahaya Bello was evading arrest, Professor Agbo appearing on Channels TV “Politics on Sunday” said the ex-governor was only enjoying the injunctive order granted in his favour by the Kogi state High Court.

“Based on the injunctive order issued by the Kogi State High Court, arising from the enforcement of his fundamental human rights, which he filed and which the court decided, it would be my opinion that he is probably enjoying the coverage or umbrella of the protection of the law.”

He said further “Because the order of that Court, as delivered on the 17th of April, 2024, it is very clear and unambiguous. In the enrollement order that I have seen, the Court ruled, restraining the respondent, i.e. the EFCC, from either harassing, arresting, detaining, intimidating or prosecuting him in respect of a particular charge that was pending before a Federal High Court.
And because that order has not been vacated, it would be wrong to say that he is running away from the law, I would rather say that he is enjoying the coverage of the protection of the law”

Sensing a flagrant abuse of the Court process by the EFCC, the erudite Professor of International Human Rights Law, Agbo Madaki prayed that “MAY THAT TIME NEVER COME WHEN COURT ORDERS WILL BE DISOBEYED AND CITIZENS WILL CLAP THEIR HANDS”

He said also that the position of the law is very clear. A judgment of the court, whether it is useless or stupid, remains valid and enforceable and it enjoins all persons and citizens in the country to obey the court order.

According to him, even if the respondent, that is the EFCC, have appealed against the ruling of the Kogi State High Court, it is the position of the law that an appeal does not serve or act as a stay of execution. Until that order is set aside, it remains valid and enforceable. He said.

Whie the legal minds are digesting the matter, political opponents of Yahaya Bello who saw the it as an opportunity to take their pound of flesh over their perceived grouse with him, have taken to the media space urging the EFCC to continue its witch- hunt of the former governor.

The former Deputy Governor to Yahaya Bello, Simon Achuba who was allegedly dancing to the drum being beaten for him from the bush by former Kogi West Ex- Senator Smart Adeyemi, addressed a Press Conference in Abuja where he and his Principal urged the EFCC to carry on with the onslaught on Ex Governor Bello. Achuba had bitten the finger that fed him fat in the past.

Looking at what is playing out, one is at a loss to know whether the whole gamut of the drama is a political persecution or Criminal Prosecution.
It is unfortunate that the EFCC is caught in the web of this rather unfortunate drama. As an agency charged with the responsibility of bringing people to account, they should demonstrate some level of decency and accountability in the discharge of of their national responsibility
The country is doomed if an agency like EFCC has become a tool in the hands of politicians to hunt down their perceived opponents.

It is expedient therefore to call on the president of the Country, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to immediately stop the ship of the nation from going adrift in terms of how EFCC carry out their operations. High-handedness is is not the way to go. Mr President, call EFCC to order, please.

Ada’aja Adeiza writes from Lokoja

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