The Kogi State Government is insisting that the N19.3 billion the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) does not belong to it.
The government, through its Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, gave the EFCC 48 hours withdraw its claim that the fund it returned to the CBN, belonged to to the state governmentor face legal action..
On Friday, the Commission had issued a statement that it returned the N19. 33 billion Kogi salary bailout funds it recovered from Sterling Bank to the CBN, which acknowledged receipt.
In Lagos, Fanwo said the commission’s claims were “mischievous, false and politically motivated.”
“Let it be known that the Kogi government has disbursed its bailout loans for the purpose of which it was granted as of October 2019.
“There is therefore no hidden bailout funds/loan’ belonging to Kogi that is capable of being returned to the CBN or frozen by an order of Court.
“The EFCC knows this, which is why it withdrew the suit it filed in Court on the bailout fund.
“The Kogi government knows absolutely nothing about the ownership and control of the said N19.3 billion, allegedly returned to the CBN.
“The Kogi government did not also open or operate a Kogi State salary bailout fixed deposit account, No. 0073572696, where the said funds were allegedly warehoused and dissipated and now allegedly returned to the CBN,” he said.
He challenge the EFCC to produce the account mandate, account package, and the phone number and BVN of those who allegedly opened and operated the ‘Kogi State salary bailout fixed deposit account No. 0073572696’ on behalf of the state government.”
“The EFCC must be mindful of how this issue will affect the fortunes of the state, shake investor confidence and the possibility of setting the people of Kogi against its government.
“Consequently, the Kogi government demands a retraction of the statement and all allegations of crimes levied against the Kogi government and its governor.
“We further demand an apology published within 48 hours from today, in one national daily and on all EFCC official and social media platforms, addressed to the governor and the entire government and people of Kogi.”
On EFCC’s claim that the sum of N666,666,666.64 was transferred from the N19.3 billion on the instruction of the Kogi government, the commissioner said that Sterling Bank had clarified that the account was not an operational account but was a mirror account opened for administrative purposes.
Last Friday, the EFCC, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had disclosed the CBN, had 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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc.
The anti-graft agency insisted that the money was retrieved from the government’s account with Sterling Bank. “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 EFCC said.
It adds, “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 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 to remit the balance in the account to the Central Ban 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”, adding 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 coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria , where the said bailout funds was disbursed.”
“The transfer has put paid to any further controversy regarding source and ownership of the funds and most importantly, aborted the funds dissipation.
“On August 31, 2021, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim, a vacation Judge, had ordered the freezing of the account, following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC.
“The EFCC, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, had stated that it 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.
“After listening to the EFCC application, Justice Ringim on August 31, 2021, ordered the freezing of the account and directed the publication of the order in a national newspaper by the EFCC.”