Ask EFCC in whose custody it found its ‘missing’ money _ Kogi govt. to Nigerians

The Kogi State Government on Sunday dared the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to come out with the report of its investigations on the purported N20 billion bailout funds over which a Lagos High Court reportedly froze the state’s account in August.

It insisted that the alleged sum of N19,333,333,333.36, which Sterling Bank had undertaken to the EFCC to transfer to the Central Bank of Nigeria does not belong to the Kogi State Government and that the state did not enter into any agreement, either with Sterling Bank or the EFCC, to return any bailout funds to the CBN as being portrayed.

The EFCC had on Friday last week withdrawn its suit seeking the forfeiture of N20 billion bailout funds.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke granted the order of withdrawal sequel to a motion filed and argued by EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, leading Rotimi Oyedepo.

But the government kicked against the panic withdrawal by the EFCC, challenging the anti-graft body to make public its investigation of the alleged bailout funds.

In a statement on Sunday, signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, the state government accused the EFCC of hiding inalienable facts and embarking on a face-saving mission with its statement on the withdrawal. It also asked Nigerians to ask the EFCC in whose custody it found a part of the bailout fund said to have been dissipated.

“It is our belief that the unceremonious withdrawal of the suit by the EFCC without informing the Court of the facts stated in paragraph 3 above, is a deliberate and face-saving effort by the EFCC which has throughout this episode engaged in very unprofessional and unethical conduct, all in a bid to ‘nail’ at all cost, the Kogi State Government and tarnish its image,” Fanwo said.

He alleged that the EFCC violated an earlier order of the court, as it failed to report its findings to the court.

“Rather it unceremoniously withdrew the suit, as it peddled falsehood to the court and the public.

According to him, citizens of Kogi State and indeed Nigerians at large should rather ask the EFCC to publish on its official platforms the report of its investigation as to the ownership of the said sum of N19,333,333,333.36 and the whereabouts of the sum of N666,666,666.64, which they alleged had been dissipated.

The state government further said, “Nigerians should further ask the EFCC whether a commercial bank could simply undertake to transfer a customer’s money from the customers’ account without the order of any court mandating such transfer or a forfeiture?

“Nigerians also deserve to know what becomes of the criminal allegation that the EFCC made when it informed the Federal High Court that the sum of N666, 666,666.64 out of the N20, 000,000,000.00 bailout loan had been dissipated and that same was being traced. Nigerians would want to know if the EFCC has found the money, if so, in whose custody was it found? Have charges been preferred against the custodian of the said funds. Or has the EFCC also abandoned that chase? Nigerians deserve to know the truth.”

“We have as of October 2019 fully disbursed our bailout funds and are already religiously repaying the loan to Sterling Bank Plc,” the state clarified.

The government spokesman said how the EFCC could conceal all of these inalienable facts was not only curious, but misleading and unethical.

“Finally, while we reserve all our legal rights against the EFCC, we reiterate our demand for an unreserved apology from the EFCC as contained in our letter to the Chairman of the EFCC dated 6th September 2021.We hope the EFCC will honour the said demand as a step on the road to redemption as it tries to regain the trust of Nigerians and repair its rapidly deteriorating image,” Fanwo said.

The state government had, as revealed in freshly published documents, sought further clarifications from Sterling Bank to drive home its innocence in the matter.

The Commissioner said, “Buoyed by the strength of our innocence, the Kogi State Government on 4th October, 2021, wrote to Sterling Bank, seeking further clarifications on the contentious account. The Bank did not only reinforce their earlier stance that the account is a Mirror Account; it also made it unequivocally clear that the Kogi State Government has nothing to do with the opening or operation of the account.

“All of these facts are in their reply received by the State Government on October 5, 2021. How the EFCC could conceal all of these inalienable facts is not only curious, but misleading and unethical.”

The state government again called on the Commission to tender public apology to the state and refrain from face-saving measures that could further damage the image of the nation.

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