How N20 billion loan obtained by Kogi Government to offset workers salaries was laundered through Sterling Bank, paid into a fixed deposit account.
It has been reported how a N20 billion bailout loan secured by the Kogi government for salary payment was put into a Sterling Bank fixed deposit account.
On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the freezing of Kogi State’s salary bailout account number 0073572696, which is held by Sterling Bank Plc, for a N20 billion debt.
The account was frozen by Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim pending the conclusion of the inquiry or possible prosecution by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).E
ENigeria Newspaper understands that the EFCC had sought the decision in an ex-parte application filed under the Constitution’s section 44(2) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act’s section 34(1), as well as the court’s inherent authority.
A counsel from the agency, A. O. Mohammed, informed the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the res and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.
Mohammed, who filed the case, informed the court that the N20 billion loan was retained in an interest-bearing account with Sterling Bank to supplement the State Government’s wage payments and operating costs.
He went on to say that instead of utilizing the funds for the intended purpose, Sterling Bank Plc, acting on the Kogi State Government’s instructions, shifted the funds from the loan account to a fixed deposit account.
Justice Ringim granted the plea, ordering the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and submit a quarterly report to the court on the investigation’s progress.
As a result, the judge deferred the case until December 1 to await the investigation results.
The EFCC stated in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte originating summons deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the EFCC’s Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos that the Commission received credible and direct intelligence that led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in account No. 0073572696 dom.
He said the Commission acted on the information and forwarded it to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was determined that on April 1, 2019, Sterling Bank Pic’s management approved a N20,000,000,000.00 rescue loan facility for the Kogi State Government.
According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Honourable Commissioner, applied to Sterling Bank Plc for a credit facility of N 20, 000,000,000 with an interest rate of 9% for a term of 240 months.
He went on to say that the facility was intended to supplement the State Government’s wage payments and operating costs.
He went on to say that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted via a memorandum of acceptance signed by His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Asiwaju Asiru Idris, the Commissioner of Finance for Kogi State, and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Kogi State’s Accountant General.
He stated that prior to the said loan application, the Kogi State Government applied for an account opening in the bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, the State’s Accountant General, and Elijah Evinemi, the Ag. Director Treasury as signatories to the said account on the 19th of June, 2019 via a letter to the Manager Sterling Bank Plc. A copy of the abovementioned letter is included and labeled exhibit EFCC 04,
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“Sterling Bank Plc disbursed a salary intervention loan of N20,000,000,000.00 to the account upon the opening of the said account with No. 0072969301.”
“Rather than using the intervention funds for the intended purpose, the State Government opened a fixed deposit account with the number 0073572696.
“That on the 25th day of July, 2019, Sterling Bank Plc, acting on the Kogi State Government’s order, transferred the money from the loan account to the aforementioned fixed deposit account.
“That on the 25th of July 2019, the said Account sought to be frozen received the sum of Twenty Billion Naira (N20, 000,000,000).
“That the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account on the 1st day of April, 2021 was N19, 333, 333.36 billion.
“That we are still investigating how the sum of N666,666,666.64 b was withdrawn from the aforementioned monies and not utilised to pay the salary.
“That the Commission is mandated by law to prevent the commission of economic and financial crimes inside the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s borders.
“The investigation into this matter is still ongoing, and this application is necessary to protect the cash in the aforementioned account from being completely depleted.
“There is no better way to preserve it than to freeze the nominated accounts.”
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Government, led by Governor Yahaya Bello, has come under fire from Nigerians who have repeatedly accused him of exploiting the lives of Kogi workers and their families.
Many people believe the governor is callous since he owes state workers and instead of using the rescue loan to pay off the backlog of unpaid salaries, he decided to trade with the money