Kogi State threatens to sue EFCC over N20bn bailout fund allegation

The Kogi State government on Thursday threatened to sue the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a recent court order that froze N20 billion in its bank account.

Information Commissioner Kingsley Fanwo said this at a media briefing on the matter.

Fanwo accused the EFCC of misleading the court by allegedly presenting false documents to obtain the court order.

“The EFCC has accused us wrongly and the intent is to drag our image in the mud. We shall challenge the EFCC at the court to substantiate their blatant allegation.

“We are not fighting the EFCC, but we need to test the allegations they have made before a court of competent jurisdiction in the light of verifiable facts at our disposal,” Fanwo said.

The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, on Tuesday, ordered the freezing of the Kogi State salary bailout account domiciled in a new generation bank over alleged N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

The Presiding Judge, Tijjani Ringim, said the order would subsist pending the conclusion of investigation or possible prosecution by the EFCC.

The court had based its ruling on an ex parte application by the EFCC, brought pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution and Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act and under the court’s jurisdiction.

The EFCC had, in its affidavit before the court, alleged that the N20 billion loan meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state, was kept in an interest-yielding account with the bank.

Counsel to the EFCC, A. O. Mohammed, had told the court that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant, the bank, while acting on the instruction of the Kogi State government, transferred the money from the loan account into a fixed deposit account.

Fanwo said: “The Government of Kogi State has called this press briefing to debunk the blatant lies told against her before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court by the EFCC, amplified in the media by sections of the press and capitalised upon by shameless political vested interests.

“For the records, the Kogi State government vehemently denies having N19,333,333,333.36 or any other sum in a fixed deposit account with the bank, as alleged.

“The Kogi State government states that it never gave any instruction to the bank and the said bank also did not fix on its behalf any bailout fund or any other funds.

“The Kogi State government states that as of July 23, 2019, when she utilised the money for the payment of salaries and allowances to Kogi State civil servants and up to August 31, 2021, when the purported court order was procured, it had approximately N46,000,000.00 cumulatively in the salary and bailout accounts it operates with Sterling Bank Plc.”

He added: “Let me stress as follows: That as of August 31, 2021, when the Court Order to preserve the phantom sum of N19,333,333,333.36 was allegedly made, the Kogi State Salary Account Number 0073499012 where the sum of N19,999,000,000 was transferred to since 2019 for the payment of salaries, had a credit balance of N44,816,195.24.

“That the allegation that the Kogi State government authorised the opening of a fixed deposit account wherein it deposited the said bailout loan of 20 billion for the purpose of generating interest for itself is false.

“The Kogi State government gave no mandate or instruction to the bank to open a fixed deposit account on its behalf as it could barely meet the salary obligations for which the funds were received at the material time.

“Finally, the letter confirmed that account number 0073572696 cited in the alleged order of the court is ‘an internal (mirror) account operated by the bank for the purposes of managing the Kogi State bailout facility.’”

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