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El-Rufai’s Broadcast: Architects of Naira redesign determined to inflict maximum pain on citizens (FULL TEXT)

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The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, made a state-wide broadcast Thursday night on the naira redesign, titled, Let us stand up strongly for democracy, peace and national unity.

See the full text below;

My dear people of Kaduna State,

1. With just about 100 days before leaving office, and elections just round the corner, it was my intention to host another media chat to interact with the people of our state in the next few days. While I still hope to do so, I feel the need to address you all today due to the unprecedentedly cruel situation our people and their livelihoods have been thrown into, particularly in the last two to three weeks by the decisions, actions and inactions of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

2. On behalf of the government of Kaduna State, I wish to express my deepest regret at the needless suffering you are enduring as a result of the prolonged fuel shortage and the difficulties occasioned by the so-called “currency redesign” policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. We understand your pain. I assure you that as your State Governor, I have been working with my other colleagues to do everything in our power to end these pains.

3. While publicly supporting what appeared to be a beneficial policy, we innocently engaged privately with the President and the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria to review the implementation of the policy so as to reduce its negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of our people, and end the pain being inflicted on citizens. In the absence of any progress to modify implementation on the part of the architects, we were forced to go public about two weeks ago, with our concerns and demand that this suffering must stop.

4. We take seriously our duty to protect ordinary people from the consequences of these policy fiascos. The sad fact is that the victims of these mindless policies are the people that elected us. It is their welfare that is being threatened. Many of our people have been left in a situation where the money they put in banks has literally been confiscated, depriving them of the ability to buy food and basic necessities. Our traders cannot sell as much as they used to because their customers have no access to their hard-earned money.

5. We have been officially informed that the currency redesign policy is to reduce money laundering and render useless stashes of high denomination naira that many politicians and public officers have accumulated through corruption and other illicit activities. As earlier stated, we are fully in support of such a policy and we made this public from the beginning.

6. We had privately expressed concerns about the timing of the currency design policy and the unrealistic timeline for its implementation. We were assured that all steps have been taken to ensure that we avoid the recent experience of India, where implementation of a similar demonetisation policy targeted at politicians ended up hurting the poorest and small businesses the most.

7. In official briefings to the President, the Central Bank of Nigeria constantly alluded to the fact that the policy also targets politicians who have accumulated a huge war chest for vote-buying during the elections. It is now clear that the President has been deceived by the Central Bank of Nigeria and some elements in his government into buying into this overarching narrative, in the name of ensuring free and fair elections in 2023.

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8. It is important for the people of Kaduna State, and indeed Nigeria, to know that contrary to the public pronouncements and apparent good intentions, this policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the Gubernatorial and Presidential Primaries of the APC in June 2022.

9. Once Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the candidate in June 2022, and subsequently did not pick one of them as his running mate, this currency redesign policy was conceived to ensure that the APC presidential candidate is deprived of what they alleged is a humongous war chest. They also sought to achieve any one or more of following objectives:

a. Create a nationwide shortage of cash so that citizens are incited to vote against APC candidates across the board resulting in massive losses for the Party in all the elections;

b. Ensure that the cash crunch is so serious, along with the contrived and enduring fuel shortage existing since September 2022, that the 2023 Elections do not hold at all, leading to an Interim National Government to be led by a retired Army General;

c. Sustain the climate of shortage of fuel, food and other necessities, leading to mass protests, violence and breakdown of law and order that would provide a fertile foundation for a military take-over;

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10. In the pursuit of these objectives, the Central Bank of Nigeria and these other disgruntled Federal officials have so far convinced the President that it is fine for ordinary citizens to be dispossessed of their hard-earned money, and starved if need be, while small and medium-sized businesses are deprived of access to their capital, thereby bringing trade and exchange to a grinding halt. All our efforts to modify implementation of the policy to avoid what we assumed were unintended consequences were unsuccessful. I chose to speak out first as one person that has been particularly close to the President, believing that his actions were motivated by innocence, and mindful of his legacy. I have no regrets for doing my duty in this regard. One day, the President will appreciate what some of us are being insulted for today.

11. Yet, the politicians that the officials have convinced the President to regard as the real targets of the currency redesign policy have not been impeded in any way by it so far. Indeed, two of the presidential candidates, and a running mate of the opposition parties own or have preferred access to some of the licensed banks. For that reason and by various clandestine arrangements, these politicians have access to hundreds of millions of these new notes, while the traders, merchants, students and other citizens are queuing for days to withdraw a few thousand Naira just to buy food and necessaries.

12. Within two to three weeks of implementation, it was clear to everyone that the architects of this policy can see that it is our people that are being terribly affected, and not the politicians. It is quite unfortunate that many politicians who either own banks or have privileged access to money are so insulated from the pains of the talakawa that they are recklessly endorsing a policy that is being badly implemented.

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13. I am referring here to the comments by the candidate of one of the opposition parties who expressed opposition to the recommendation first of the APC state governors, and subsequently of all the governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum that the implementation timeline be extended, to enable the old and new notes to be legal tender side by side until the cash shortage ends.

14. My dear people of Kaduna State, let me explain how the architects of this policy intentionally designed it to fail. The total currency in circulation in Nigeria was estimated at N3.2 trillion at the end of 2022. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, N2.1 trillion has been withdrawn as of early February. The CBN claimed that N700bn is the amount of cash needed for their functioning vision of a “cash-less” Nigerian economy. The Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Doyin Salami disagrees with this estimate, and believes at least N2 trillion of currency needs to be in circulation for our economic sustainability. Other experts variously estimate this to be between N1.2 trillion and above, so the CBN number of N700bn is not realistic.

15. The CBN informed the President at the very beginning that the Mint (NSPMC) has enough capacity to print the needed currency in circulation within the 6-week timeframe for the so-called ‘cash swap’. By its own admission, only N400bn worth of new notes had been printed for CBN as at early February. The current cash shortage was therefore designed from the beginning, the President was lied to about the domestic capacity of the Mint to print, and even if the announced N700bn was printed, it would have been grossly inadequate anyway. Imagine then printing only N400bn, and making most of it unavailable to the banks but passed to favoured entities through special arrangements. How can the CBN collect N2.1 trillion from citizens and print only N400bn? Is this not a clear case of economic sabotage?

16. It is bad economics to so curtail economic activity and the velocity of circulation of money. It is also insensitive to deliberately cause cash shortage and then seek to instigate the public against the mostly innocent commercial banks. Even the most honest and prudent action by banks cannot magically make N400bn to look like N2.1 trillion, or have the same spread and availability like the CBN should have ensured. As a regulator, the CBN should not be seen to be setting up the banking sector as the public enemy to cover up the glaring failure in its design and implementation of the cash swap policy.

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17. We have repeatedly appealed to the Federal Government to allow whatever remains of the old notes to circulate concurrently with the new notes. We recommended that the Federal Government should also hasten to ensure that more of the new notes are printed and brought into circulation. We thought that if the Nigerian Mint is incapable of printing the volume of cash needed as it appears, then necessary steps must urgently be taken to get a reliable supply source.

18. There is no reason why the old notes and the new notes should not coexist until the old notes are gradually withdrawn over the years as is done in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and other countries. It is unfortunate that in implementing this policy, Nigeria is departing from global best practice, without any compelling justification. The Kaduna State Government did all these, not in opposition to any person or authority, but because we stand with our people and their interests.

19. When it was clear that our recommendations will not be seriously considered, the Kaduna State Government decided, along with the governments of Kogi and Zamfara states to declare a dispute with the Federal Government. In line with the provisions of the Constitution, we approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria to invoke its original jurisdiction to hear us and the cries of our people. The Court did on February 8th, and ordered that the deadline of February 10th for all the ‘old’ notes ceasing to be legal tender be rescinded until the determination of the suit. This ruling applies to the Federal Government and its agencies like the CBN, and all commercial banks! We are grateful to the Court for this ruling, and we had hoped that compliance by the CBN and the banks would bring relief to our people. It is now clear that the architects of this policy are determined to continue to inflict maximum pain on the citizens to achieve their objectives outlined earlier.

20. It was our hope that the Federal Government of Nigeria would welcome this injunction as an opportunity to mitigate the needless human suffering being experienced and correct its course on this matter. There is no emergency situation that justifies the rushed and seemingly deliberate incompetent execution of this policy. We suggested that compliance with the ruling would include adopting a whole-of-government approach, that involves the agencies of the federal and state governments in modifying the design, execution the implementation of the currency redesign policy.

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21. Even when confronted with the facts above, the CBN and its masters remain determined to implement their agenda no matter how much human suffering, death and destruction results. It is clear that the architects of this policy always had objectives that are totally in conflict with public interest, peace and the unity of Nigeria. They neither considered our suggestions in line with the Court order, nor respected the unanimous resolution of the Council of State.

22. It is also quite revealing that the Federal Government and its agencies not only disobeyed the February 8 ruling by continuing to say the February 10th deadline stands. It is shocking to see the blatant violation of the subsisting and continuing order of the Supreme Court that ALL the old and new notes should continue to be legal tender until it gives judgment in the case filed by the Kaduna State Government along with several others.

23. The address by the President earlier this morning limiting the legal tender status of old notes to only N200 amounts to total disregard and disobedience of the ruling of February 8th which was extended further yesterday by the Supreme Court. The misguided action of the Attorney-General to mislead the President into engaging in this public violation of the order of the highest court of the land shows how desperate the policy architects are to cause national chaos, by showing open contempt for the judiciary.

24. The decision to recognise only N200 as legal tender till April that the President announced this morning was offered to the state governments as part of proposals for an out-of-court settlement three days ago. The Federal Government asserted that this was offered because all the ‘old’ N1,000 and N500 notes had been destroyed. We rejected the offer and proved to the officials that not a single higher denomination note had been destroyed. We also believe that circulating N200 only to be inadequate in alleviating the suffering that we see every day. We insisted that all the components of the Supreme Court order should be complied with.

SEE ALSO:  JUST IN: Emefiele printed N684.5m with N18.9bn, says EFCC in fresh charge

25. But back home, what do we do in Kaduna State? My dear of people of Kaduna State, with the foregoing revelations, it is clear that our peaceful coexistence as a state, and a nation, is being placed under deliberate danger using the intentional combination of fuel and cash supply disruptions. These evil people using the instrumentality of the Federal Government and the President as convenient covers are willing to truncate our democracy because they have personally lost out. They are massively deploying resources and tools to defeat the political party that gave us the platform to serve the country just because they could not impose the candidates of their choice. Let us not help them

26. Let us stay calm and peaceful, and support the lawful means being utilised to solve our problems. On behalf of the Kaduna State Government, I wish to assure you that none of you would lose the money you have in old notes. Let no artificial and illegal deadline frighten you. Whether you live in towns, villages or in our isolated rural communities, do not feel stampeded to deposit your old notes in the banks. Hold on to them. Continue to use them as legal tender as ordered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. No deadline can render them worthless, ever. The law is on your side. The Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 and the Bills of Exchange Act, both oblige the CBN to recognise your old notes and give you value in new notes whenever you bring them to the CBN, even in the next 100 years.

27. Therefore, as your governor, I wish to assure you that the Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with elected legislators, traditional institution, elected local government councils, markets, and traders associations will help you collect, record, document, collate and deliver all your old notes to the Kaduna branch of the Central Bank on your behalf into the new ones immediately after the elections. We will also ensure the delivery of your new notes to your various locations without any hardship or expense on your part. We shall save you any panic and the stress of a long journey from your community to the CBN office in our state capital, from March until December 2023 if need be.

28. For the avoidance of doubt, all the old and new notes shall remain in use as legal tender in Kaduna State until the Supreme Court of Nigeria decides otherwise. I therefore appeal to all residents of Kaduna State to continue to use the old and new notes side by side without any fear. The Kaduna State Government and its agencies shall seal any facility that refuses to accept the old notes as legal tender and prosecute the owners. If need be, we shall take further consequential actions according to the law.

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29. While urging you all not to fall for these antics of the enemies of Nigeria, please be patient and continue to exercise resilience in the face of open provocation and deliberate disinformation. We encourage you to be ready with your PVC to vote in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections. We are doing all we can to ensure that it is peaceful, orderly and hitch-free. I appeal to you to understand the shenanigans of these unpatriotic elements in Abuja and ensure you vote massively for the intended victims of these last-minute policies of needless hardship and incitement of the citizens – our party, the APC and its candidates in all the elections.

30. The Kaduna State Government is making this appeal, and taking all these measures to shield our people from the terrible consequences of the currency redesign policy. We seek to protect our people’s hard-earned money, their ability to engage in trade and exchange and buy what they need. We also seek to protect their civic rights, liberties and freedoms under a democratic dispensation. I call on the people of Kaduna State to remain peaceful and vigilant in the face of brazen attempts to engineer crisis in order to get a pretext for unconstitutional or undemocratic actions.

31. In conclusion, our Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has asked me to convey his greetings, empathy and words of encouragement to the good people of Kaduna State. He urges us to remain patient, pray for our country and remain vigilant in our pursuit of Renewed Hope. Thank you all for listening. God Bless Kaduna State. God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

State Broadcast by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, on the Federal Government’s Naira redesign, on February 16, 2023.

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CBN injects fresh Dollars into BDCs at N1,021/$1

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CBN injects fresh Dollars into BDCs at N1,021/$1
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the sale of $10,000 to each licensed Bureau De Change (BDC) operator nationwide.

This marks the second such intervention this month by the apex bank.

In a circular addressed to the president of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators (ABCON), the CBN outlined the details of the intervention.

BDCs will be able to purchase dollars at the rate of N1,021 per dollar.

They are, therefore, authorized to sell this forex to eligible end users at a maximum spread of 1.5 percent above the purchase price, translating to a maximum selling price of N1,036.15 per dollar.

On the 8th of April 2024, the CBN sold $10,000 FX to each of the 1,588 participating BDCs at a fixed rate of N1101 per US dollar at a spread capped at 1.5 percent above the purchase price from the CBN (approximately N1,116.15 per dollar). This limited the potential profit BDCs could make on each transaction

The latest circular has instructed all eligible BDCs to commence immediate payment of the Naira equivalent for their allocated $10,000 into designated CBN Naira Deposit Accounts.

This deposit must be accompanied by the submission of necessary documentation to facilitate the disbursement of forex at respective CBN branches.

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The latest intervention by the CBN is likely to be met with cautious optimism by market participants. The continued injection of US dollars into the BDC segment aims to improve access to forex for legitimate transactions, potentially alleviating some pressure on the parallel market.

However, the effectiveness of this strategy hinges on several factors: the extent to which the allocated amount meets the current demand for forex remains to be seen; strict adherence to the stipulated maximum selling price by BDCs is crucial for ensuring transparency and preventing market distortions; and while stop-gap measures like these can provide temporary relief, addressing the underlying causes of FX scarcity is essential for achieving long-term market stability.

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The CBN’s recent actions since February 2024 highlight its ongoing efforts to manage forex liquidity and ensure the smooth functioning of the foreign exchange market.

The success of this strategy will depend on continued monitoring, adjustments as needed, and fostering a more market-driven approach to FX allocation in the long run.(NATION)

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JUST IN: Emefiele printed N684.5m with N18.9bn, says EFCC in fresh charge

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JUST IN: Emefiele printed N684.5m with N18.9bn, says EFCC in fresh charge
Emefiele

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed a fresh charge at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory against the embattled former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

EFCC in the charge accused Emefiele of approving the printing of N684,590,000 at the rate of N18.96 billion.

In the charge sighted by PUNCH Online on Tuesday, EFCC alleged that Emefiele broke the law with intent to harm the public during his implementation of the naira swap policy of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The anti-graft agency also accused Emefiele of unlawfully approving the withdrawal of N124.8 billion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

The document dated April 2, 2024, and marked Suit No: CR/264/2024, was filed by EFCC’s top prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN revealed that Emefiele will be arraigned on a new four-count charge before Justice Hamza Muazu bordering on disobeying the law to punish Nigerians, iilegal printing of money, abuse of office, among others.

Counts one to four of the charge, read, “STATEMENT OF OFFENCE: Public Servant disobeying direction of law with intent to cause injury to the public contrary to and punishable under Section 123 of the Penal Code Law, Cap. 89 Laws of the Federation, 1990.

“PARTICULARS OF THE OFFENCE: That you GODWIN IFEANYI EMEFIELE between the 19th day of October 2022 and 5th March 2023 in Abuja, knowingly disobeyed the direction of Section 19 of the CBN Act, 2007, by approving the printing of N375,520,000.00 pieces of colour swapped N1, 000, at the total cost of N11,052, 068,062 without the recommendation of the Board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you thereby committed an offence.”

“COUNT 3: “That you GODWIN IFEANYI EMEFIELE between the 19th day of October 2022 and 5th March 2023 in Abuja, knowingly disobeyed the direction of Section 19 of the CBN Act, 2007, by approving the printing of 137,070,000 pieces of colour swapped N200 (Two Hundred Naira) Note, at the total cost of N3, 441, 005, 280 without the recommendation of the Board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you thereby committed an offence.”

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“COUNT 4: “That you, GODWIN IFEANYI EMEFIELE, on or about the 7th day of October 2020, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, knowingly disobeyed the direction of Section 80 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), by approving the withdrawal of the total sum of N124, 860, 227, 865.16 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation in a manner not prescribed by the National Assembly, which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you thereby committed an offence.”

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Recall that Emefiele was on November 18, 2023, arraigned before the court on six counts of procurement fraud, in what is the most high-profile corruption case under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He was also accused of abusing his office by approving a contract for the acquisition of 43 vehicles totalling N1.2 billion from 2018 to 2020.

On Monday, April 8, 2024, the EFCC arraigned the former banker alongside one Henry Omoile before Justice R.A. Oshodi of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for an alleged $4.5bn and N2.8bn fraud. (PUNCH)

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Remove ‘Wanted’ from Yahaya Bello’s name – Kogi Assembly tells EFCC

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Remove ‘Wanted’ from Yahaya Bello’s name - Kogi Assembly tells EFCC
• Embattled former Kogi Gov, Yahaya Bello
Kogi House of Assembly has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to vacate the ‘wanted’ tag it placed on the name and picture of the immediate past Governor Yahaya Bello.

This forms part of the resolutions during the House plenary on Tuesday and follows a matter of urgent public importance presented on the floor of the House by the member representing Ajaokuta Constituency, Hon Jibrin Abu.

Their resolutions made available to newsmen on Tuesday read: “The EFCC, IGP, Immigration, NSA and other agencies conscripted into this melodrama be so informed and involved to act accordingly. The Commission should not allow itself to become a tool of political vendetta, blackmail, or intimidation against any individual through personal grudges, persecution, and campaign of calumny to tarnish the image of personalities from Kogi State, especially Alh Yahaya Bello or any perceived political enemy of the characters hiding behind their executive powers to unleash allegations through media for public consumption and sympathy.

“The House condemns in its entirety a statement by legal practitioner suggesting a request that the military be involved in the case that does not constitute a threat to internal security or treasonable felony.”

Earlier in his motion, titled,: “A call to end all false, frivolous, fictitious, and far from the truth smear campaign against the former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello,” Abu lamented the anti-graft agency had been allegedly witch-hunting the former Governor for a long time.

“The recent reports on the print, electronic and social media had featured various debasing forms of address against the former Governor of Kogi State. Recall that the whole narrative was principally sparked off by the blithe actions, without respect to due legal process by Nigeria’s anti- graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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“The consequence of this has deeply affected the minds, emotions, and impressions of Kogi citizens, and by extension, Nigerians. Kogi State, over the years, has witnessed a worrisome trend and torrent of witch-hunt by the anti-graft agency, unrepentantly striving to force corruption claims on the State Government and officials.

“This is not forgetting the plight of late Prince Abubakar Audu in the hands of the same agency, albeit, giving his dog a bad name for the kill.

“The Commission started with claims that it discovered a non-existent fund in an alleged Fixed Deposit Account. By its statutory responsibility and while appreciating EFCC’s efforts in the fight against corruption, every right thinking individual would hold it a duty to support it in no small measure to succeed in its primary responsibilities. It is also possible as touted all around for those very wary of certain actions outside legal process by the EFCC to caution against allowing the Commission to become a tool for political vendetta.

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“It is pertinent for House to further note that the new objectives assured by the leadership of EFCC upon assumption of duty and in his fight against crimes and corruption under President Ahmed Bola Tinubu are to fight financial crimes with due diligence and legal process. These objectives are being eroded by certain selfish group of political individuals with access to media and investigations in the commission.

“The 7th Legislative Assembly of Kogi State in August and September 2021 berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission upon the completion of its investigation over the allegation of N20b Bailout diversion against the former Governor of Kogi State, Alh. Yahaya Bello through a fixed deposit account at Sterling Bank, Lokoja.

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“The EFCC has continued the trajectory of persecuting the former Governor against all known legal decencies and now likened, by most, to personal vendetta. But the question is why?

“A point of reference for the House to take cognizance of is the submission, that having wasted taxpayers’ money, the time of the honourable court and Nigerians, one Kemi Pinheiro SAN, acting on behalf of EFCC and other Legal luminaries, discovered that the case of N20b against the State Government lacked substance and that it was aimed at disrespecting the rule of law. The case was accordingly withdrawn citing 6 reasons. These reasons were in line with findings of 7 Legislative Assembly and for berating the EFCC.

“The Rt. Hon. Speaker, distinguished honourable members, this was not without a fight by the then Governor, revealing to Nigerians the impotent drive
by the Commission and its sudden acceptance of duties not enshrined in the law establishing the same.

“Kogi State, by allocation standard, is not rich so much so that N80.4b will be missing that the State will not be shaken to its foundation. This claim by the EFCC should be sanctioned and taken as laughable. Innocent Nigerians and Kogi State citizens that bought into the lies should by their personal volition withdraw their support,” he stated.

In his submissions, the member representing Kabba-Bunu State Constituency Hon. Oluwaseyi Bello berated EFCC for allegedly disobeying a subsisting court order in the State.

Former Deputy Speaker Hon. Enema Paul told the anti graft agency to respect the rule of law.

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He said: “Why is EFCC in a haste? Nigeria is not a banana republic. I was surprised to hear a senior lawyer to EFCC inviting the military in a Civil case. Has the Police, DSS failed?

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“I think EFCC should look at their lawyer and see if he is really qualified. The Man they declared wanted is in Appeal Court with them. Declaring him wanted, I think EFCC has a lot of questions to answer. We don’t want military to rule this Country and some body is dragging us back to the olden days.”

Speaker Aliyu Umar Yusuf admonished the anti-graft agency not to act contrary to the law of the country.

“This House is not against the EFCC doing their job but they should do it within the ambit of the law and not in a gestapo way.

“The country belongs to all of us, so we must respect the law and work with it. The EFCC engaging in media trial and working in a gestapo way is unacceptable. If Yahaya Bello has a case to answer, it should be done within the rule of law,” he stated.

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