Media trial: EFCC violated rights of Yahaya Bello’s children – Kogi Youths

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Vow to present case to National Human Rights Commission

Scores of youths from Kogi State trooped out in Abuja, on Wednesday, in a May Day solidarity walk for Nigerian children to press home their disappointment with the handling of the much-publicised allegations of corruption against the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The youths decried what they called the systemic violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the former Governor’s children, “who have nothing whatsoever to do with whatever the Commission is investigating their parents for.”

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President, Kogi Independent Youths Association, Comrade Mohammed Abdulrazak, said, “Let it be on record that we do not support corruption in any manner. What we are against is not following due processes to carry out law enforcement duties, especially when you begin to drag in innocent children into the fray. This can damage them psychologically for life.

“Children don’t play politics. Children can’t be punished for the sins of their parents even when such has been proven. Nobody deserves to be punished for a crime they know nothing about, not to talk of innocent children.

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“Today’s rally is the first in the series of actions we have laid out until justice is done in this matter. All these concerns will be presented to the National Human Rights Commission any moment from now for appropriate intervention especially to protect the rights of the innocent children who have been dragged into this political war by the EFCC.”

He added, “As educated youths who are versed in the practice and procedures concerning the arrest, arraignment, and prosecution of an accused person, the due process of the law is sacrosanct and must be duly adhered to and complied with.

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“Former Governor Yahaya Bello has not been shown any fairness, which is a cardinal principle of law. He has not been
served with the notice of charges against him, or arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction by the EFCC, but he has already been arraigned, tried, and convicted by the EFCC going by their utterances in the media and unnecessary display of executive drama.”

Abdulrazak pointed out that the 1999 Constitution as Amended guarantees the innocence of an accused person until otherwise proven, but added that the EFCC, in the pursuit of its persecution of ex-Gov Bello, had thrown all caution to the wind and turned his botched arrest into a television and social media soap opera.

“This is being done to demonise him,” he said.

The President of the Kogi Youths Association said, “We know that before an accused person is arraigned before a court for arraignment and trial, service of charges against him is usually the condition precedent, except where the accused person is on the run. Former Governor Yahaya Bello was not and has never been on the run. In fact, he has an active and running injunction from a court of competent jurisdiction that forbids EFCC from arresting him to which EFCC had appealed against in the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja until they recently withdrew it.

“It is the natural course of justice that once an appeal is pending before an appellate court, status quo ought to have been maintained until the appeal is determined, but EFCC in their zeal to prove that they were working as they ought to refused and neglected to obey the order of the court which constitutionally binds them and to which they as a matter of must, obey. But they in disobedience to competent court order disobeyed and laid siege to his house, thereby violating his right to privacy and other constitutionally guaranteed rights.

“We are also aware that before a Nigerian citizen is deprived of his property, both corporeal and incorporeal, an order of a court of competent jurisdiction must first be had and obtained.
In the instant case of Governor Yahaya Bello, EFCC, in their gestapo style, had forced the American International School to make a refund of nearly $800, 000(eight hundred thousand dollars) being the school fees of his children studying therein, which he paid in advance to avoid the inflation and fluctuations that go with Nigerian economy.

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“This action of the EFCC has brought to and exposed the children to so much trauma and opprobrium because of the taunts and mockery they are being bombarded from their fellow classmates.

“We are in no way advocating against the trial of the former governor, and if found guilty, face the appropriate sanctions and punishments that go with it, but the anti corruption agency, which is the EFCC must as a matter of obedience to law, follow the procedures because any disobedience to our constitution and extant laws is a recipe for anarchy which is antithetical to
our constitutional democracy.

“We condemn in its entirety the involvement of those innocent children in whatever EFCC and the powers that be have against their parents. They should have never have been part of any witchunt by the Commission. Their actions against these children are in total violation of the Child’s Rights Act of 2003.”

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