The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has disclosed that it has returned the sum of ₦19.3 billion bailout funds reportedly hidden by Governor Yahaya Bello-led government to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The development was disclosed in a statement released by the spokesman of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren on Friday.
Recall that the commission had earlier accused the state Government of stashing the money in a Sterling Bank account, an accusation which the state Government denied accusing EFCC of mischief.
Uwujare further stated that the decision of the anti-graft agency puts to rest “the campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi State Government that no fund was recovered from its bailout account”.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has acknowledged the receipt of the sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 (Nineteen Billion, Three Hundred and Thirty-three Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-three Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-three Naira, Thirty-six Kobo) recovered the EFCC from the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc. This effectively puts to rest the campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi State Government that no fund was recovered from its bailout account.”
“The apex bank in a letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 and dated 9th November 2021 informed the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa that it has received the money.
The letter reads in part: “We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021, with Ref. No: CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/REC-STE/VOL.4/047 on the above subject and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below: Bank: Sterling Bank Plc; Amount: N19, 333, 333,333.36; Date of receipt: 04 November 2021.
“The return of the money to the apex bank is in compliance with the October 15, 2021 Order of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi Lagos directing the unfreezing of the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account to enable Sterling Bank to remit the balance in the account to the Central Bank of Nigeria. Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave the Order pursuant to an application filed by the EFCC.
“The Commission had told the court that the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where the account was domiciled had acknowledged the existence of the said account with the staggering sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 in its books.
“The Commission further brought to the attention of the court that “The sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen”, adding that “the management of Sterling Bank PIc, has, pursuant to a letter dated 15 September 2021, signed by its Managing Director, indicated intention to return the total sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 back to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
“The transfer has put paid to any further controversy regarding source and ownership of the funds and most importantly, aborted the funds’ dissipation.
On August 31, 2021, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim, a vacation Judge, had ordered the freezing of the account, following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC.
As at the time of filing this report the Kogi State Government is yet to react to the EFCC statement.