N80.2 bn Money Laundering: Kogi East elders extorting governor Ododo to show solidarity with Yahaya Bello

In this interview with Atekojo Samson Usman, a journalist and Secretary of Ujache Rights Organisation, he explained that the former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Adoza Bello has been coordinating protests and solidarity from hide out. On his behalf, he said, his successor in office, Governor Ododo Ahmed Usman was being extorted by gullible and fake groups to show solidarity for Bello in order to malign the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
According to him, marabouts mostly from Kogi East have joined the trail of those making brisk money from Yahaya Bello’s travails.
Question: What have you to say about protesters and those showing solidarity for the former Governor of Kogi State, who has gone into hiding to avoid the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC?
Answer: From January 27, 2016 to January 27, 2024, Yahaya Bello ruled the State with iron fisted hands and was looting the state at the same time. For any reasonable person from Kogi State to show solidarity with the former governor despite his glaring infraction on laws and injustice perpetrated against citizens of Kogi State, is rather very unfortunate. Bello’s travails, as it were, became an opportunity for fake groups and gullible persons to extort money from Governor Ododo Ahmed Usman, who is sympathizing with his benefactor.
Those protesting were out to intimidate the EFCC to abandon justice even when it was clear to everybody of the massive fraud in the poor State in the last eight years. They were pretending not to see that the immediate past governor paid $760,000 of Kogi money as his children’s school fees in advance into the account of Abuja American International School. They are pretending not to have knowledge of N20 billion bailout funds meant for Kogi workers was lodged in Sterling Bank sometime in 2020 for unexplained reasons which was eventually returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, after the fund was leaked leading to legal fireworks. They are supporting Bello against the good conscience of Kogi citizens and the good people do not have their backing.
Question: Who are these Kogi East elders supporting Yahaya Bello and warning the EFCC to stay clear?
Answer: We know them. We have their names. They are self-acclaimed Kogi East elders who declared themselves so, for purposes of extorting money from governor Ododo or Bello himself who is coordinating protesters and sympathisers from his hideout. As the Secretary of Ujache Rights Organisation, a socio-political and socio-cultural group from the East, we know our elders. The ones that went to Abuja, to organize a press conference backing Yahaya Bello and calling on President Bola Tinubu to intervene and provide a soft landing to him are not elders from the East that we know. They are damn broke and political failures desperately looking for crumbs to survive and unfortunately, Governor Ododo has fallen prey to their antics. They are impostors, who failed elections before, with some of them as political contractors who are comfortable doing abominable things. Ujache Group has taken cognizance of them and we look forward to seeing them coming out to contest elections in future and see whether Igala people will vote for them.
We know Kogi East elders that are at the pleasure of the Ujache Rights Organisation, Igala Cultural Development Association, Ukomu Igala, Ojuju Agbadufu and few others. The elders we know are noble and wise men from the East and the not few impostors who have thrown integrity into the wind defending a ‘Mussolini’ of Kogi State who is on the run over crime he committed against the good people of the State in the last eight years.
Not only the self-acclaimed elders are showing solidarity for Yahaya Bello, but some youth groups and marabouts. Most of the marabouts doing incantation and libation for the EFCC to be confused and left Bello alone are Igala people from Kogi East. Some of them have been contacted and contracted to do voodoo to shield him away from prosecution and I tell you they are wasting their time because what we are seeing is Bello’s day of retribution and it is divine.
Question: Why has the EFCC singled Yahaya Bello out for prosecution? Where are other governors who have the same financial allegations?
Answer: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as much as I am not speaking for the agency, never singled out Yahaya Bello for prosecution. Remember that Bello like any other governor in office cannot be prosecuted because of immunity when he was in office, but could be investigated while in office in line with Section 7(1) of the EFCC Act. Bello was under investigation and at the end of his tenure on 27th January, 2024, he was invited to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja for further investigation and he took to his heels.
The former governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom was invited to EFCC headquarters after his tenure of office. He honoured the invitation and was grilled after which he was let go. The notion that Bello was singled out was wrong. Even Ortom’s predecessor, Gabriel Suswam was invited over corruption and money laundering allegations and he honoured the invitation. After that he even became a Senator and till today he is not in prison, but in his house and so what is the difference between Yahaya Bello and other former governors that he chose to get involved in media cacophony as if stories of how he stole N80.2 billion are explained on pages of newspapers. The former governor of Ondo State, Peter Ayodele Fayose after governing the State for eight years was accused of money laundering and he drove himself to EFCC to clear himself.
Bello was not the first governor of Kogi State to be accused of money laundering. Prince Abubakar Audu of blessed memory who was the first executive governor of Kogi State was accused of fraud after his first tenure and the case went to Court and I think the Court ruled in his favour. Also, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris who spent nine years in office as governor was accused of fraud and he went to the EFCC to clear his name and at the end of the day, “a certificate of clean bill of health”, was issued to him by the EFCC. Of all those that ruled the State, the citizens never had it bad the way they did during Bello’s tenure. Kogites across the Senatorial districts cannot forget in a hurry the man-made hardship they passed through during Bello’s tenure…..
Question: That takes us to the plight of Kogi workers during Bello’s tenure. How did the staff screening end?
Bello’s problems started with workers’ screening exercise late 2016. That screening had one of the most confused reports ever in history of Kogi State, with the report laced with ethnic colouration and political sentiments. The report was targeted at downsizing workers from the eastern flank, but his Deputy, Chief Edward David Onoja who was obsessed with power, thinking that Bello would hand over the baton to him at the end of the day overzealously supported him.
The State House of Assembly under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Umar Imam in an adopted resolution on 18th January, 2017 condemned the screening report as a result of recommendations that a larger percentage of workers should be sacked. The resolution of the House was trashed and Bello went ahead to sack workers, demote, and reduce salaries of surviving workers to 15%. The development wreaked lives, choked citizens and for eight years, there was no training and retraining, no promotion, hence, workers became discouraged in the State. During Bello’s tenure, a level 13 officer received N17,000 to 20,000 as monthly salary without further explanation by anyone. Most of the workers from Kogi East who are directors and Permanent Secretaries were prematurely retired or sacked on frivolous excuses and were replaced with their juniors in service from the Central Senatorial District. In this way, Bello raised the bar of ethnic sentiments, but before Edward Onoja could know, Bello got him involved in “EBIGO”, a campaign slogan of unity among the three major tribes ahead of his return for a second tenure in 2019.
The EBIGO acronym which goes for Ebira, Igala and Okun became a major campaign outfit championed and driven by Edward Onoja with lots of state resources committed to it. This was running amid hardship, killings and brute force with many casualties of whoever stands in the way. The first implementation of the screening report was the sack of Prince Abubakar Audu, PAAU, Anyigba lecturers, who were immediately replaced with Corp members in 2017. The College of Health Sciences that had medical students at 300 level with Grimard Hospital as Teaching Hospital was shut down. Bello later transferred medical students to other State Universities. He sacked the Vice Chancellor and replaced him with a female Vice Chancellor of Ebira extraction who remained there till date.
I still argue till date that the establishment of Confluence University of Science and Technology, Osara in the Central District, and the establishment of Kogi State University, Kabba in the Western district were to service to ethnic and political agenda as I see no reason how a state like Kogi could manage three Universities including a Polytechnic, two College of Educations, two School of Health Sciences and other vocational institutions.


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