Documents from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria has confirmed how the Kogi State Government led by Governor Yahaya Bello stole and hid about N20 billion meant for workers’ salaries in a secret bank account.
SaharaReporters also obtained the Court Order which ordered that the money should be refunded to the Central Bank of Nigeria by Sterling Bank where the state government secretly stashed the money.
The court order reads, “It is hereby ordered as follows; that the Account upon which this Suit was instituted was frozen by an order of this honourable court. That the management of the Sterling bank Plc, whose account no, 0073572696 with the name Kogi State Salary Bail Out Account is domiciled has clarified the questions resulting to the commencement of this suit.
“That the management of Sterling Bank has since acknowledged the existence of the said account in their book but claimed same was a mirror account. That it is expedient for the suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen to enable the transfer and return of the sum to the coffers of the CBN where the said bailout fund was disbursed.”
SaharaReporters also obtained the correspondence between the EFCC and the bank where the commission wrote to the bank’s Managing Director in a letter dated October 21, asking the bank to unfreeze the controversial bank account to enable the money to be transferred back to the CBN’s coffers.
“Reference to our letter dated September 21, 2021, and pursuant to an order of the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos State, directing the unfreezing of the above mentioned account to enable the bank transfer the balance to the CBN, coy of the order is herewith attached for ease of reference,” the Zonal Commander, EFCC, Ahmed Ghali said.
SaharaReporters also obtained another letter in which the CBN confirmed the receipt of the money in a correspondence to the EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, and signed by the Director, Development Finance Department.
“We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021 and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below” the CBN said in the document.
SaharaReporters had on Saturday reported that the EFCC confirmed that the CBN acknowledged the receipt of the sum of N19,333,333,333 recovered by the commission from the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account.
SaharaReporters had in various reports stated that the controversial N20 billion – meant for workers’ salaries in the state – was stashed away in a commercial bank account by the state government led by Bello.
According to a release by the EFCC obtained by SaharaReporters on Friday, the agency said the CBN had recovered the money hidden by the Bello administration into its vaults.
The EFCC had said, “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 bail out 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 Ban 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 release by EFCC Spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, added, “The EFCC had prayed The court that it “is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen to enable the management of Sterling Bank PIc effect the transfer/ return of the sum of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 back to the coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria, where the said bailout funds was disbursed.”
“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.
“The EFCC, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, had stated that it received a credible and direct intelligence, which led to the tracing of the funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.
“After listening to the EFCC application, Justice Ringim on August 31, 2021, ordered the freezing of the account and directed the publication of the order in a national newspaper by the EFCC.”