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“Yahaya Bello can be arrested and prosecuted” — Femi Falana



"Yahaya Bello can be arrested and prosecuted" -- Femi Falana

Human rights activist and legal luminary, Femi Falana, has weighed in on the recent attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest the former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, over allegations of financial impropriety.

The EFCC operatives reportedly stormed Bello’s residence in Abuja on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into financial fraud. However, Governor Usman Ododo, Bello’s successor, allegedly facilitated his escape from the premises.

In response to these developments, Falana issued a statement on Thursday, affirming that Yahaya Bello, having concluded his tenure as governor, no longer enjoys immunity from arrest and prosecution.

“As a former governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello has lost his immunity from arrest and prosecution.”

Citing Section 35(1)(c) of the Nigerian constitution, Femi Falana stressed that law enforcement agencies, including the police and anti-graft bodies like the EFCC, retain the authority to apprehend a suspect upon reasonable suspicion of criminal activities.

According to Femi Falana,

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“No court can confer a life immunity on a former governor in Nigeria.”

He further elucidated that judicial orders barring the arrest of a criminal suspect cannot impede the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies in carrying out their duties.

Referencing legal precedents, Femi Falana highlighted the Supreme Court’s stance on the matter, citing the case of Orji Kalu v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2016) 39 WRN 53.

In this case, the court ruled that an order from a High Court restraining law enforcement agencies from arresting a suspect does not hinder the jurisdiction of another court to prosecute the individual.