The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has confirmed the return of N19.33 billion Kogi State bailout funds to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In a statement by the Commission’s spokesperson, Mr Wilson Uwajaren, he said the refund aborts dissipation of the funds and puts an end to further controversies relating to the source and ownership of the funds, News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Reacting to the statement by EFCC, Kogi State Commissioner for information, Mr Kingsley Fanwo on Friday said the statement vindicates the state government from the accusation by EFCC.
The EFCC had instituted a suit marked: FHC/1/CS/1086/2021 against the Kogi State government seeking to freeze its account with bank account number 0073572696.
EFCC had alleged that the sum was deposited in an interest yielding account by the Kogi State government officials domiciled in Sterling bank. The Commission moved a motion for the interim forfeiture of the funds to prevent further dissipation of the funds in the account.
On August 31, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim ordered the freezing of the said account following the ex-parte application filed by EFCC.
The money deposited with the account name “Kogi State Salary Bailout Account” was meant for the payment of salaries in the state.
In an application filed by the Commission’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) EFCC sought to discontinue the suit following the decision of Sterling Bank Plc to return the money back to CBN.
On October 15, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court Ikoyi division, granted the application as prayed by EFCC.
What the EFCC is saying
Mr Uwujaren said returning the funds to CBN would effectively put to rest the campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi State government that no funds were recovered from its bailout account.
According to him, the EFCC had urged the court to discontinue the suit to enable the management of Sterling Bank effect the transfer of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 back to CBN, where the said bailout funds were originally disbursed from.
Uwajerem said that CBN in a letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 dated November 9, 2021 to the EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the CBN had confirmed the receipt of the money.
“We refer to your letter dated Nov. 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 Nov., 2021, ” the letter read in part.
Mr Uwajarem said the money was returned to CBN in compliance with the court’s order.
Kogi State Government reacts
Mr Fanwo, who described EFCC’s allegation as false and laughable said the allegation was a malicious attempt to involve the state into a matter that doesn’t relate to it.
He assured indigenes of the state that the state government would prepare a comprehensive response to EFCC’s moves.
“Quoting a letter signed by the CBN, has not said anything different from what had been said so far on the controversial N20 billion bailout fund,” Mr Fanwo said.
“The statement by the commission is a malicious attempt to rope the state into a matter that ordinarily has nothing to do with it.”
“We maintain the unassailable truth that the Kogi government did not operate such account with the bank as affirmed in a letter by the bank.
“Every option that is legal will be considered to maintain the innocence and transparency of our government,” he added.
In case you missed it
Nairametrics had reported that the state government revealed that Sterling Bank had opened the controversial fixed deposit account without the knowledge or directive of the state.
Nairamaetrics also reported that Kogi State government demanded an apology from EFCC for freezing its account.