N20B Kogi salary loan diverted, EFCC moves for forfeiture

Governor Yahaya Bello of  Kogi State

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi

A N20 Billion loan secured by the Kogi state government to pay workers was diverted into an interest yielding account by officials of government.

The EFCC which got wind of the money and was suspicious is now seeking a court order to freeze it and return it to the Federal government coffers.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 adjourned till 15 October 2021 hearing of all applications in respect of the money.

The money was banked at Sterling Bank, with the account name`; Kogi State salary bail-out account.

On 31 August 2021, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim had ordered the freezing of the account, following an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The EFCC, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, said the money was reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities in an account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.

Moving the application for the interim forfeiture of the funds on August 31, 2021, A. O. Mohammed, counsel to the EFCC, urged the court to grant the Order to prevent further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Mohammed had also told Justice Ringim that the N20 billion loan meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the government was kept in an interest-yielding account with the Bank.

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According to him, “ Instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant for, Sterling Bank Plc, acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government, transferred the money from the loan account and placed it in a fixed deposit account.”

Mohammed had further told the court that the Bank had yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility was well secured.

After listening to the applicant’s counsel, Justice Ringim ordered the freezing of the account number 0073572696, and also directed the publication of the order in a national newspaper by the EFCC.

The Commission was also ordered to make quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, counsel to the Kogi State government, Prof. Sam Erogbo, SAN, told Justice Aneke, whom the matter was re-assigned to, that his client had filed processes against the interim order granted by Justice Ringim, and that the EFCC had equally filed reply to the same.

Erogbo, therefore, told the court that he needed time to respond to the EFCC’s counter-claim and also asked for a short date to hear his applications.

In his response, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, admitted being served with the processes, and added that he had equally filed his counter.

Consequently, Justice Aneke adjourned the matter till October 15, 2021 for hearing of all the applications.

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