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Ewa Okpo, constitutional lawyer, criticizes EFCC’s approach as ‘trial by mischief’ in Yahaya Bello case



During an appearance on Arise TV’s morning show, Ewa Okpo, a Constitutional lawyer, characterized the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s actions in the recent standoff with the former Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, as a form of “trial by mischief.”

Okpo specifically pointed out the EFCC’s misstep in attempting to arrest Bello despite the existence of a valid restraining order which had not been lifted at the time of the agency’s action. He emphasized that the entire scenario revolved around an abuse of the court process.

According to Okpo, Nigeria’s legal system requires strict adherence to six categories of laws when prosecuting individuals, including constitutional provisions, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the EFCC Act, the Money Laundering Act, laws related to courts’ jurisdiction, and the Evidence Act.

He criticized the EFCC for not following proper legal procedures and highlighted that the agency should have first officially invited Bello for questioning before considering any further actions. Okpo noted that the EFCC’s failure to respect the legal process in this matter was evident.

Okpo further expressed disapproval of the EFCC’s actions, describing them as a clear case of “trial by mischief.” He stressed the importance of respecting court orders that prohibit law enforcement agencies from harassing or arresting individuals and underscored the significance of accountability within such agencies.

He commended the court’s role in intervening and serving as a crucial oversight mechanism for law enforcement agencies, promoting adherence to the rule of law. Okpo emphasized that even watchdog agencies like the EFCC should operate within the confines of the law and respect judicial directives.

Reflecting on the incident, Okpo concluded that the EFCC’s conduct in attempting to arrest Bello in defiance of a valid court order was unjustifiable and highlighted the need for law enforcement agencies to uphold legal standards.