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Yahaya Bello: Protesting Lawyers Storm Supreme Court

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Dozens of lawyers yesterday stormed the Supreme Court to protest what they described as harassment and intimidation of former Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Also, hearing in the appeal filed by the EFCC against the judgement of the Kogi State High Court, which barred the commission from arresting the former governor could not take place as the Court of Appeal did not list it.

The EFCC had appealed the order on March 11, 2024 and sought a stay of execution in Appeal No: CA/ABJ/CV/175/2024: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission v. Alhaji Yahaya Bello. The Court of Appeal did not grant the stay of execution but fixed yesterday for hearing.
The appeal, however, failed to take place as the registrar told journalists that the appeal was not listed among the cases for the day.

While parties in the matter were in the court to get date for the appeal, the protesting lawyers reportedly from across the country stormed the Supreme Court in condemnation of the EFCC “illegal” approach against Yahaya Bello.

The lawyers under the umbrella body of Lawyers of Conscience through their co-convener S.K. Alewu, lamented the EFCC’s attempt to arrest the former governor despite being served a valid court order that restrained it from doing so.

Alewu said not only had Bello’s fundamental rights been breached, he said the judiciary has become willing tools in the hands of enemies of the rule of law.
The lawyers, therefore, urged the Nigerian Judicial Council and President Bola Tinubu to call the EFCC to order to stop further abuse and disobedience of court orders.

“It has become pertinent again that we address well-meaning Nigerians on the current attacks on the Judiciary by the very institutions created by law to enforce and guarantee the sanctity of our judicial processes,” the statement said.

“As young lawyers, we envisage a judiciary where justice is not only done but also seen to be manifestly done. It is in our patriotic quest to always pursue ventures that guarantee an independent judiciary that dispenses justice without fear nor favour that we formed this civil society of lawyers.

“We are therefore perturbed that desperate politicians and corrupt elements in our polity are working very assiduously to bring the judiciary that sacrificed its all to guard its jurisdiction jealously under the military regime to public odium and opprobrium.

“It is more worrisome that even the very institutions that are created by law to enforce our laws have become willing tools in the hands of enemies of our rule of law and the judiciary to harangue our judges and bring the justice system to public ridicule.”

It said the current case between the EFCC and Gov. Yahaya is the most heinous of such instances, adding that it is sickening that the commission will move to lay siege and even attempt to arrest the former governor of Kogi State despite being served a valid court order that restrains them from doing so and without vacating the said order.

It noted that the events of the past few days are capable of eroding the many gains and national acclaim the commission recorded and enjoys from the majority of Nigerians who see the establishment of the commission as the greatest intervention to the endemic corruption that has rocked our public service and government institutions since the return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999.

The group said the only succour is that the current president of Nigeria, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a leader who gave his all to sustain our democracy, noting that the president, at one point, became a victim of political witch-hunt.

It revealed that it has submitted petitions to the Nigerian Judicial Council and President Bola Tinubu asking that they use their good offices to call the EFCC to order and stop any form of abuse and disobedience of court orders.

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