…as Kogi workers celebrate bleak Christmas

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has sealed off over 50 houses and other properties in different choice locations across the country belonging to the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, over his involvement in an alleged money laundering case to the tune of N10.2bn.

The governor is being investigated for allegedly siphoning over N10.2 billion from the state government account through his nephew, Aliyu Bello, and one Abdulsalami Hudu, a cashier of Kogi State House Administration (now at large).

Aliyu alongside Abdulsalami Hudu were arrested and arraigned before Justice James Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, by the EFCC on Thursday on 10 counts bordering on misappropriation and money laundering to the tune of N10.2 billion.

This is as the hope of many workers and pensioners in the state to mark this year’s Christmas still hangs in the balance, as the civil servants and retirees lament non-payment of their salaries and pensions by the government.

A source within the anti-graft agency who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity revealed that some of the properties, including a five-bedroom fully detached duplex and 150-room five-star luxury hotel in Kogi and Abuja, respectively, were allegedly acquired with proceeds of the N10bn money laundering fraud.

“Yes, I can authoritatively confirm that properties of the governor, including 50 houses, hotels and others in different locations in the country have been sealed by detectives of the EFCC attached to the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering,” the source said.

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“Some of the properties so far sealed were said to have been allegedly acquired from proceeds of the money siphoned by the governor through his nephew. The EFCC is committed to pursuing the case despite the distractions from the governor and his sympathiser and the governor may finally forfeit the property among other consequences if finally proven guilty.”

Meanwhile, workers in Kogi State who shared their pains and agonies with our correspondents expressed disappointment over the government’s inability to pay them their salaries and pensions, leaving them unable to meet their daily needs.

Noting that the development has ruined their plans to celebrate the season with their loved ones, the workers lamented that they have for months been receiving salary payments piecemeal with some getting as little as 20 percent.

“It is quite shameful that we will not be celebrating the yuletide season with our colleagues from other states across the country because we have a selfish, non-performing, wicked and corrupt government led by Yahaya Bello who has continued to deny us our salaries and pensions,” Yakubu Oseni, a civil servant in the employ of Kogi State, said.

“It is a few hours until Christmas and while other state governments have paid their workers December salaries and even a 13th month salary, we are yet to see November salary. Is this not wickedness? A government of favouritism, cronyism and nepotism,” Oseni said.

“Imagine not being able to pay workers their due salaries and wages but siphoned over N10bn of public funds through his nephew, and he is busy buying houses and other properties in different choice locations across the country. This is apart from the huge public funds he expended pursuing his joke of a presidential ambition.

“Who did this to us as a people? How did we get here? This man is the worst thing that has happened to Kogi State. EFCC must further investigate him and help Kogi people recover all our monies looted by this man through his families and cronies,” he said.