N20bn Bailout Loan: Court Hears Kogi, EFCC Applications October 15

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Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Lagos Federal High Court, will on October 15, hear all applications relating to N20 billion bail out loan allegedly belonging to Kogi State government, said to have be warehoused by the Sterling Bank Plc.

Counsel to Kogi State government, Professor Sam Erogbo (SAN), had told the court that the freezing order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was illegal.

It would be recalled that Justice Tijjani Ringim had on August 31, granted an Exparte application brought by the EFCC for an interim forfeiture of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 billion, said to be warehoused in Sterling Bank account number  0073572696.

Justice Ringim made the order of the interim forfeiture after taken arguments from the EFCC’s counsel, Abbas Muhammed.

In asking the court for the order, Abbas told the court that the application was brought pursuant to section 44(2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the EFCC Act and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court. Adding that the interim order was necessary so as to  preserve the ‘Res’ and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

The EFCC in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte summons deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC, stated that the Commission received a credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on the  April 1, 2019 the management of Sterling Bank Pic approved an offer of N20,000,000,000.00 bailout loan facility for Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, on the June 19, 2019 fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, office of the Honourable Commissioner, applied for Credit facility of Twenty Billion Naira N 20, 000,000,000, with an interest rate of 9 percent for a tenure of 240 months from Sterling Bank Plc”.

He added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the State Government.

He stated further that on June 26, 2019 the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by the His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Asiwaju Asiru idris, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

He stated that prior to the said application for loan, Kogi State Government on the 19th June, 2019 vide a letter to the Manager Sterling Bank Plc, Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account. Attached and marked exhibit EFCC 04 is a copy of the said letter.

“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.

“That rather than used the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fix deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 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 aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said Account sought to be frozen received the Sum of Twenty Billion Naira, (N20, 000,000,000) on the 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 billion

“That we are still tracing what the sum of N666, 666, 666. 64 billion, has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.

“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the Commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated. Adding that without freezing the nominated accounts, there is no better way of preserving res”.

Upon listened to the counsel’s submissions, Justice Ringim granted the request and ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and made quarterly report to the court on the progress of it’s investigation.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, before Justice Aneke’s court, where the matter was reassigned to, counsel to Kogi State government, Professor Erogbo (SAN) told the court that his client has filed process against the interim order granted by Justice Ringim, and that the EFCC have equally filed counter to the processes.

Erogbo (SAN) told the court that he needed time to respond to the EFCC’s counter. Consequently, he asked the court for a short date.

Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, admitted  been served with the processes and that he has equally filed counter to such.

Following the adjoumment request of the Kogi State counsel, Justice Aneke, adjourned the matter till October 15, for hearing of all applications.

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