Kogi state government, has demanded an apology from the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, (EFCC), over the indictment of the state government on corruption charges.
The Abdulrasheed Bawa led EFCC, has allegedly accused the Kogi state government, of ‘fixing’ N19.3billion, money meant for salary of its civil servants in a fixed deposit account at Sterling Bank.
EFCC was said to have raised the alarm, after receiving intelligence report that, the said amount, belonging to Kogi state, was actually ‘hidden’ in a fixed account at the named bank.
Consequently, on August 31, 2021, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim, a vacation Judge, following the ex-parte application filed by EFCC, and after listening to the case filed, ordered the freezing of the said account, and also directed the publication of the order, in a national newspaper.
EFCC, in a 13-paragraph affidavit, in support of the ex-parte application, had stated that, the Commission, “received a credible and direct intelligence, which led to the tracing of the funds, reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc, with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.”
Backing up EFCC’s claims, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in a statement titled, “Hidden N19.3bn Kogi Salary Bail-Out Funds Returned to CBN”, issued by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, it was clearly stated in the press release that, the said amount of N19.3bn, belonging to Kogi state government, as ‘Salary Bail-Out Funds’, was actually ‘hidden’ in a fixed deposit account, at Sterling Bank Plc, but that, it has been returned to the Nigeria’s apex bank.
The Statement reads:
“Hidden N19.3bn Kogi Salary Bail-Out Funds Returned to CBN”
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has acknowledged the receipt of the sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 (Nineteen Billion, Three Hundred and Thirty-three Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-three Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-three Naira, Thirty-six Kobo) recovered by the EFCC from the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account, domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc.
“This effectively puts to rest the campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi State Government that no fund was recovered from its bail out account.”
“The apex bank in a letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 and dated 9th November, 2021, informed the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, that it has received the money.
The letter to EFCC Chairman, Bawa, sent by CBN, reads in part:
“We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021 with Ref. No: CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/REC-STE/VOL.4/047 on the above subject and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below: Bank: Sterling Bank Plc; Amount: N19, 333, 333,333.36; Date of receipt: 04 November, 2021”.
“The return of the money to the apex bank is in compliance with the October 15, 2021 Order, of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi Lagos, directing the unfreezing of the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account, to enable Sterling Bank, remit the balance in the account, to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
“Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave the Order pursuant to an application filed by the EFCC.”
“The Commission had told the court that the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where the account was domiciled, had acknowledged the existence of the said account, with the staggering sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 in its books.”
“The Commission further brought to the attention of the court that “The sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen”, and that “the management of Sterling Bank PIc, has, pursuant to a letter dated 15 September, 2021, signed by its Managing Director, indicated intention to return the total sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 back to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
“The EFCC prayed The court that it “is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen to enable the management of Sterling Bank PIc effect the transfer/ return of the sum of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 back to the coffers of the Central Bank of Nigeria, where the said bailout funds was disbursed.”
However, despite the glaring evidences against the Yahaya Bello’s led Kogi state administration, the state at a press conference held in Lokoja, the state capital, the Kogi state Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, has announced the state government’s intention to sue EFCC, and maybe, alongside its CBN partner, if the Commission does not retract its statement, and apologize to the state government.
Fanwo, who spoke on behalf of the state government, further threatened that, a 48 hour ultimatum is given to EFCC to recall the statement; which he considered as an attempt to ‘rubbish’ the integrity of the state’s Governor, Yahaya Bello.
Commissioner Fanwo further claimed that, Mr Gov. Bello, or the state government, is unaware of any N19.3bn fixed in a bank account belonging to the Kogi state.
He reiterated that, with information at his disposal, Gov. Yahaya Bello, has been transparent on how money accrued to the state, is being expended, by publishing the same in its financial statement.
He therefore deflated EFCC’s assertions, that of CBN, and that of Sterling Bank Plc, who owned up to having the said amount in an account belonging to Kogi state government, as untrue.