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Court hears applications in Kogi, EFCC N20b dispute October 15

By Joseph Onyekwere
05 October 2021   |   4:00 am
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, will, on October 15, hear all applications relating to the controversial N20billion bail out loan allegedly belonging to Kogi State government and warehoused in Sterling Bank Plc.

Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). Photo: WHITENIGERIAN

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, will, on October 15, hear all applications relating to the controversial N20billion bail out loan allegedly belonging to Kogi State government and warehoused in Sterling Bank Plc.

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

Justice Tijjani Ringim had on August 31, granted an ex parte application brought by the EFCC for an interim forfeiture of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 billion in Sterling Bank account.

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.

He added 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 application deposed to, by a member of EFCC’s team of investigators, 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 Plc approved an offer of N20b bailout loan facility for Kogi State government. 

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

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

“That the upon opening of an account with No. 0072969301, Sterling bank Plc disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20b 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 July 25, 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 N20b on July 25, 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,” he swore, adding that the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the Commission of economic and financial Crimes within the shores of Nigeria. 

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 last week before Justice Aneke’s court, where the matter was reassigned to, counsel to Kogi State government, Prof. Erugo (SAN) told the court that his client has filed a process against the interim order granted by Justice Ringim and that the EFCC have equally filed counter to the processes.

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

Subsequently, Justice Aneke, adjourned the matter till October 15, for hearing of all applications.