Court freezes Kogi’s government account

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The Lagos division of the federal court on Tuesday ordered the freezing of the Kogi state salary bailout account at Sterling Bank over a N20 billion loan received from the bank.

Tijjani Ringim, the judge who issued the order, said it would remain pending an investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had submitted an ex parte application to the judge, which, according to the agency, pursuant to Section 44 Para.

AO Mohammed, attorney for the EFCC, told the court that the order was necessary to stop any further extraction of the funds in the account.

According to Mr Mohammed, the N20 billion loan, which was intended to increase the state’s payroll and running costs, was held in an interest account with Sterling Bank.

He added that on instructions from the Kogi state government, Sterling Bank Plc transferred the funds from the loan account to a fixed-term deposit account instead of using the money for its intended purpose.

He stated that Sterling Bank Plc is not yet required to provide credible evidence that the facility is well secured.

Mr. Ringim granted the motion and instructed the EFCC to publish the decision in a national newspaper and to report to the court quarterly on the progress of its investigation.

The judge adjourned the matter for the investigation report until December 1.

EFCC application

The EFCC had submitted a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of their ex parte subpoena, stating that the Commission had received “credible and direct information” that resulted in the discovery of funds that could reasonably be considered revenue from unlawful activity on Account No. 0073572696, located in Sterling Bank, Plc, named Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

The Commission was said to have responded to the said information and assigned it to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was found that the management of Sterling Bank Pic was on Jan.

According to the defendant, on June 19, 2019, the Kogi state government applied for a N20 billion credit facility with an interest rate of 9 percent for a term of 240 months with Sterling Bank Plc.

He added that the said facility was designed to increase the state government’s salary and running costs.

The defendant added that on June 26, 2019, the loan offer was accepted by a letter of acceptance signed by Governor Yahaya Bello; Asiru Idris, the finance commissioner; and Momoh Jibrin, state accounting officer.

He stated that prior to the said loan application, the Kogi State government had written to Sterling Bank Plc manager Lokoja to open an account at the bank called the Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.

Mr. Jibrin and Elijah Evinemi, acting director of the State Treasury Department, served as the signatories of the account.

“That at the opening of said account with the number 0072969301 Sterling Bank Plc paid a salary intervention loan of N 20,000,000,000.00 to the account.

“Instead of using the intervention funds for the intended purpose, the state government has opened a fixed-term deposit account no. 0073572696.

“That on July 25, 2019, Sterling Bank Plc, on the instructions of the government of Kogi state, transferred the money from the loan account and transferred it to the above-mentioned fixed-term deposit account.

“That said account wanted to be frozen, received on July 25, 2019 the sum of twenty billion naira (N20, 000,000,000).

ALSO READ: FG begins making cash transfers to vulnerable households in Kogi, Sokoto

“That on April 1, 2021 the balance of the said fixed deposit account was N19, 333, 333, 333,36.

“That we are still tracking what the sum of N666,666,666.64 was deducted from said funds and was not used to pay salary.

“That the commission has the legal mandate to prevent the commission of economic and financial crime with the coasts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“This investigation into this matter is pending and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in said account to prevent them from being fully withdrawn.

“That there is no better way to preserve res without freezing the nominated accounts.”

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