EFCC Obtains Court Order To Freeze Kogi Salary Account Over N20bn Bailout Loan

EFCC Obtains Court Order To Freeze Kogi Salary Account Over N20bn Bailout Loan

Following an order from a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, a Kogi state salary bailout account with Sterling Bank Plc, has been frozen, due to a N20 billion loan collected from the bank.

The trial judge, Tijjani Ringim, approved the order based on an ex parte application presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), pending the outcome of the investigation or possible prosecution.

The application was brought pursuant to section 44 (2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the EFCC Act.

Counsel to the EFCC, Abass Muhammed, informed the court that the order was needed to preserve the ‘res’ (the fund in question) and ease the continued expenditure of the funds in the account.

According to Muhammed’s deposition before the court, a N20 billion loan meant to augment salary payment and running cost of the Kogi state government was lodged in an interest-yielding fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank.

He stated that Sterling Bank Plc is yet to provide credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

The judge instructed the antigraft agency to make public the court order in a national newspaper.

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Also, the judge asked the EFCC to furnish the court with a quarterly report on the progress of its findings and adjourned the case till December 1, for the report of investigation.

According to a 13-paragraph affidavit, the EFCC stated that it obtained credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities deposited in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, with the name ‘Kogi State Salary Bailout Account’.

The EFCC investigating officer stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was secured by the state through a memorandum of acceptance signed by Yahaya Bello, Kogi governor; Asiwaju Asiru Idris, commissioner for finance, and Jibrin, the accountant-general.

“That upon the opening of the said account with No. 0072969301, Sterling bank Plc disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20,000,000,000.00 to the account,” the affidavit reads.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the state government proceeded to open a fixed deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25th day of July 2019, Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi state government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said Account sought to be frozen received the Sum of Twenty Billion Naira, (N20,000,000,000) on 25th July 2019.

“That as at 1st day of April 2021, the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36.”

The EFCC added that it is “still tracing the sum of N666,666,666.64”, as the missing amount was allegedly not used for payment of salaries.

About Author

Victor Okeh is a graduate of Economics from Lagos State University. He is versatile in reporting business and economy, politics and finance, and entrepreneurship articles. He can be reached via – [email protected]

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