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Yahaya Bello: Abuja American School agrees to refund $760k children’s school fees to EFCC from $845,852.84 paid

…Yahaya Bello responds

 

The American International School of Abuja has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to provide “authentic banking details” for the refund of fees paid for the children of Yahaya Bello, immediate-past governor of Kogi state.

 

Bello allegedly paid $720,000 in advance as fees for five of his children from the coffers of the Kogi state government.

The children are in grade levels 2 to 8 at the school.

On April 17, EFCC operatives laid siege on Bello’s residence in Abuja in an attempt to arrest him over an alleged N80.2 billion fraud.

While the operatives were at the house, Usman Ododo, governor of Kogi, arrived at the property and reportedly whisked Bello away.

In a letter addressed to the Lagos zonal commander of the EFCC, through the chairman, the school said the sum of $845,852 has been paid in tuition “since the 7th of September 2021 to date”.

AISA said the sum to be refunded is $760,910 because it had deducted educational services already rendered.

“Please forward to us an official written request, with the authentic banking details of the EFCC, for the refund of the above-mentioned funds as previously indicated as part of your investigation into the alleged money laundering activities by the Bello family,” the letter reads.

“Since the 7th September 2021 to date, $845,852.84 (Eight Hundred and Forty-Five Thousand, Eight Hundred and Fifty-Two US Dollars and eighty-four cent in tuition and other fees have been deposited into our Bank account.

“We have calculated the net amount to be transferred and refunded to the State, after deducting the educational services rendered as $760,910.84. (Seven Hundred and Sixty Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ten US Dollars and Eighty-Four cents).

“No further additional fees are expected in respect of tuition as the students’ fees have now been settled until they graduate from ASIA.”

The school said it would draw the attention of the anti-graft agency if there were any further deposits by the Bello family.

In a statement signed by Greg Hughes, AISA also said “Ali Bello contacted the school on Friday 13 August 2021 requesting to pay the family school fees in advance until the students graduate from High School”.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, had revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

Meanwhile, in response to the accusations, the embattled former governor has released a statement signed by Ohiare Michael, which included several crucial details to set the record straight.

The statement titled “Payment for school fees:Setting the records straid”, partly read, “While we reserve our rights to seek redress against the said defamatory statements, permit us to briefly state the following for the purpose of setting the records straight: “His Excellency, Yahaya Bello’s children have attended the American International School, Abuja well before he became Governor and he has paid fees for his children as and when due and without fail.

“His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello did not pay the sum of USD720,000 as alleged by the EFCC Chairman or USD840,000 as is being bandied about on the internet.

“The payment of the fees was not effected at about the time his Excellency was to leave office as claimed by Mr. Olukoyede but same commenced in 2021.

“Alhaji Yahaya Bello DID NOT pay the fees of his Children with monies from the Coffers of the Kogi State Government.

“When the EFCC approached the American International School Abuja (AISA) to illegally recover funds legitimately paid by Alhaji Yahaya Bello and other family members, a member of the family challenged the EFCC’s unlawful acts to recover funds legitimately paid. The FCT High Court, in Suit No.FCT/HC/2574/2023 between: Mr. Ali Bello v. The Incorporated Trustees of American International School, Abuja, held that AISA could not lawfully and unilaterally refund to a third party, including the EFCC, fees paid by the parties to the suit.

“The Court subsequently mandated AISA to continue to provide the services it had been paid with respect to the fees.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that no money belonging to Alhaji Yahaya Bello or his family members with regard to school fees has been recovered by the EFCC.

“Now, let it be known that, contrary to misleading narratives by the EFCC, all the documents published online i.e. receipts and letters, that the EFCC has released online, in furtherance of its unrelenting persecution of the former Governor, are documents filed by lawyers in the suit instituted on behalf of Alhaji Yahaya Bello and others who paid fees for their wards under the Advance Fee Payment Agreement with AISA. Those documents, having been filed by his lawyers, are thus public documents, which shows that his Excellency, Yahaya Bello, has nothing to hide with regard to the payment of advance fees for his children. This unending harassment and persecution, even while in office, were among key reasons he sought to enforce his fundamental human rights.

“We state that the payment of these fees and the legitimacy thereof is the subject matter of Charge No. FHC/CR/573/2022, filed by the EFCC since 15th December 2022 at the Federal High Court, Abuja. The Charge is pending and the Court has yet to make any finding or convicted anyone in respect of the said sum.”

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