The Battle of the White Lion, the Eagle, and the Rest of Us

Yahaya Bello

By Ibn Maigana

Many people believe that journalists also aid money laundering in Nigeria. This may be true as some professional journalists are sometimes hired to protect and polish the horrible images of politicians like the former Governor of Kogi State, Alh. Yahaya Bello.

Bello, let us be brutally frank, was notorious for owing Kogi workers their salaries for months and even years, when he was governor.

The self-acclaimed White Lion, all through his stewardship, was a ‘cancer’ Kogi workers batlled with. Surprisingly, a mere eagle chased him, and everyone knows he went into hiding despite his lioness strengths. It is so strange that a perceived ordinary eagle has humbled him. This eagle deserves a national award for successfully turning a lion into an ordinary fearful man.

Unequivocally, I have come to the realization that some lawyers are also culpable when it comes to issues of protecting political elements who looted public funds for their personal enjoyment, forgetting the indomitable eagle that fights fat-belly lions and defeats them, especially when the lions and tigers have eaten so much that they can’t even run, let alone fight back.

If not unpatriotic, why would a legal luminary describe the EFCC’s move against the former egoistic Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, as ‘illegal’? If arresting or declaring him wanted was illegitimate, what is the constitutional name given to money launderers? I guess, they are called ‘My lord’. I can’t even describe how sad I was when I read the news that a lawyer has advised the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) not to act above the law in its efforts to arrest and subsequently prosecute Kogi’s former governor.

I don’t know what the lawyer means by ‘not acting above the law’ in this context because it is the law that establishes the commission and empowers it with the right to arrest and prosecute unjust public officers, who turned public offices into a stealing factory where theft is committed with impunity. Professionals like journalists and lawyers should ideally lead the fight against injustice, bad governance, and uphold state accountability and transparency through every means available at their disposal, not the other way around.

While writing this afternoon, I read an article by a reporter from The Street Journal. The report was accompanied by a video of a female civil servant protesting against the non-payment of nine years’ salaries by the immediate past Governor of Kogi State. She said, ‘I have not been paid for seven years. Tinubu, are you hearing this? I am dying of hunger. Tinubu, where are you? Yahaya Bello, armed robber.’ I believe there are thousands like her who are suffering in silence due to fear of victimization by either the past Governor or his cult-like loyalists, who can commit unspeakable offenses to silence the existing truth that uncovers the wrongdoings of the white lion.

The lawyer uncommonly went on to challenge the withdrawal of state security details attached to the ‘White Lion’ and even termed it as illegal, adding that Bello is now exposed to great political dangers. I tend to wonder if there is anything as dangerous as subjecting people to hunger and starvation by not paying their salaries for years. It is in the news. The man has been having issues with the Labour Congress over non-payment of salaries for years. I guess the alleged pocketed N80.2 billion Naira largely owned by starving civil servants of Kogi State.

In relation to the charges against Yahaya Bello, 21st Century Chronicle published on January 12, 2024, that the embattled ex-Governor of Kogi State, along with his nephew Ali Bello, had been arraigned before the Federal High Court in Abuja over a suspicious transaction of a N10 billion money laundering case, transferred in tranches from the accounts of Kogi State Government and that of the state’s government house account. This, among many similar charges against him, shows that he’s unlikely innocent of the crimes attributed to him.

I am not antagonistic towards Yahaya Bello as a person. My concerns stem from patriotism, and I only wish that the Federal Government will not interfere in his case in any way, as he is a white lion who proudly once said that he is never afraid of any confrontation. Let the truth set him free if he was truthful and honest. We are keenly following his case.

Lawan Bukar Maigana writes from Abuja and can be reached via email: