Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has finally acknowledged receipt of the sum of N19,333,333,333 which the anti-graft agency allegedly recovered from the Kogi State Government’s Salary Bail-out account.
This is, however, as the Kogi State Government has described the EFCC statement as ‘laughable.’
After months of denial by the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello of knowledge of the said money, with the EFCC unrelenting in its allegations that the former domiciled the missing money in an account with a commercial bank in the country, the agency, Friday, said the state government quietly returned the funds back to the CBN.
According to a release by the EFCC, Friday, the CBN had recovered the money hidden by the Bello administration into its vaults.
“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 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 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.”
Continuing, EFCC’s Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, added: “The EFCC had 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.”
However, refusing to be caught off-guard, the Kogi Government, same Friday, responded to the EFCC statement, by calling the anti-graft’s claims as ‘laughable,’ and ‘an attempt to desperately wriggle out of a bad case with another mischief aimed, again, at misleading Nigerians.’
According to the state government, quoting a letter signed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which had not said anything different from what had been said so far on the controversial N20bn bail-out fund, the EFCC had finally exposed the fact that it had been pursuing a political agenda all along.
In a statement reacting to a press release by the EFCC on Friday, Kogi Commissioner for Information and Communications in Kogi State, Kingsley Fanwo, said the Government would prepare a comprehensive response to the latest of the desperate moves by the Commission to save its face in view of its obvious goof and unethical conduct in the matter in dispute.
“The press statement by the Commission is a malicious attempt to rope the state into a matter that ordinarily has nothing to do with our dear state.
“We maintain the unassailable truth that the Kogi State Government did not operate such account with the bank as affirmed in a letter by the bank. We sympathize with the EFCC as it has been a herculean task to cover the initial misinformation and deliberate deceit by the Commission,” the statement added.
Fanwo stressed that the Kogi State Government would react to the latest EFCC statement comprehensively, noting that “every option that is legal will be considered to maintain the innocence and transparency of our Government.”
“Kogites and indeed, Nigerians should rest assured that we will get to the root of this matter,” he assured.