2nd September, 2021
By Richard Elesho
The Kogi State Government has drawn the battle line with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, vowing to drag it to court over a recent court ruling bordering on financial impropriety.
The commission on Tuesday, through a Lagos High Court frozen a N20 billion salary bail out account operated in Sterling bank
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, the state’s economic team said the state government has no fixed deposit account as claimed by EFCC in court.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo said the action of the anti-corruption agency is an attempt to drag the image of the state in the mud.
He alleged that there are vested interests, people who are behind the embarrassing interim injunction freezing the state’s salary account in the bank.
The state government urged Nigerians to know that the “various news surrounding the alleged conversion of salary bail out funds in Kogi State are fake, the allegations and acts are those of malicious men and women employing the machinery of Government to do the bidding of their seen and unseen allies.”
“The allegation that the Kogi State Government authorised the opening of a fixed deposit account wherein it deposited the said bailout loan of N20 billion for the purpose of generating interest for itself is false.
“The Kogi State Government gave no mandate or instruction to Sterling Bank Plc to open a fixed deposit account on its behalf as it could barely meet the salary obligations for which the funds were received at the material time.
“Sterling Bank Plc by its letter of 1st September 2021 confirmed in writing that the ‘the Kogi State Government does not currently operate or maintain a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank’. The letter proceeded to confirm that all the balances in all the accounts operated by Kogi State Government was approximately N46 Million.
“Finally, the letter confirmed that account number 0073572696 cited in the alleged order of the Court is ‘an internal (mirror) account operated by the bank for the purposes of managing the Kogi State Bailout Facility,” he said.
The government’s spokesman said they would seek appropriate redress and would resist most vehemently the instant attempt and any further attempt to bring her into disrepute.
“We are still shocked as to how the EFCC came about the patently false information upon which they have fraudulently or by misrepresentation of facts secured the purported order freezing a non-existent account or a ‘mirror account’ created for administrative purposes by the bank in respect of funds which have since the October 2019 been fully disbursed and utilized for the purpose for which it was borrowed.
“We want to put it on record at this point that at no time during this entire concatenation of unfortunate events did the EFCC invite or question, much less seek clarification, from this Government or any of her officials in relation to such weighty matters.
“Also, none of the media houses or platforms which initially broke the news so much as sought a comment from us. No doubt our rights to fair hearing and the nation’s right to fair and accurate reportage did not matter in the circumstances of this shabbily designed but otherwise clinically executed hatchet job.
“This is neither happenstance nor coincidence, but a coordinated hostile action. We remain concerned that a Federal Agency of the calibre and responsibilities of the EFCC which is charged to combat financial fraud is the one engaging in fraud and misrepresentation of facts for the purpose of securing needless orders meant to ridicule a court of competent jurisdiction while simultaneously attempting to drag the pristine white robes of the most transparent and accountable state government in Nigeria, to with, the Kogi State Government led by His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello in their barrel of palm oil.
“While we are yet to conclude on the EFCC’s motive for this dishonourable act, we cannot but wonder if the ‘new’ EFCC is now lending its machinery for the use of politicians and detractors to tarnish the image of a State that has enjoyed the confidence and commendation of domestic and international partners as a bastion of accountability and integrity,” he said.
The state government assured citizens, partners, investors and the general public that its commitment to transparency, probity and accountability in office will remain unrivalled in the country.