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HomeNIGERIAN20bn bailout: Kogi govt wants N35bn as damages from EFCC

N20bn bailout: Kogi govt wants N35bn as damages from EFCC

·        Northern gov under radar for N60bn cash withdrawal

By Laraba MUREY

The last is yet to be heard of the N20bn Kogi bailout loan which was retrieved from Sterling Bank by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria as the Kogi state government has dragged the anti-graft agency to court over “unsubstantiated allegations” on the bailout funds.

The EFCC had stated the state government maintained an account with Sterling Bank where the fund was warehoused, alleging suspicious fraudulent activities related to the account.

In August, a federal high court sitting in Lagos froze a Kogi state salary bailout account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc following an ex-parte application brought by the EFCC.

The EFCC later claimed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has received N19.3 billion recovered from the state account domiciled in the bank.

In a statement, on Sunday, the Kogi government said it has sued the commission at the state high court, demanding the sum of N35 billion as damages.

“The Kogi State Government, Accountant-General of the State, Momoh Jibrin; and Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Mukadam Asiru, were claimants in the suit, while the EFCC, Sterling Bank and Central Bank of Nigeria were listed as defendants,” the state said.

“The Government is demanding the sum of N35billion only as damages against the 1st defendant for the defamatory publication, titled, ‘Hidden N19.3bn Kogi salary bailout funds returned to CBN’ made on November 19, 2021 on her Facebook page containing amongst others, false and unfounded allegations of N19.3 billion being returned from Kogi State bailout account, which portrays fraud and misappropriation of public fund against the claimant.”

The state said the court granted “an interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondent, its allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from doing anything either by inviting officials of the 1st Claimant or requesting for any document with respect to the issue involving Account No 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to the 1st Claimant/Applicant domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc or any other bank registered and operating in Nigeria or otherwise relating to or pertaining to the affairs of the 1st Claimant whatsoever or its employees, appointees or associates pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.

“The Kogi government asked for an order of this Honourable Court compelling the 1st Defendant to, within 48 hours of the order of this Court, publish in three national dailies, a retraction of her frivolous allegations and also tender unreserved apology to the Claimant for the defamatory publication written against the Claimant.”

The state also asked the court to declare the publication by EFCC as “misconceived, wrongful, illegal, null and void”.

The motion on notice will be heard on December 17.

The suit is coming on the heels of disclosure by the EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, that an unnamed governor in the North Central was under the radar of the agency for personally withdrawing cash of N60 billion from his state treasury.

The commission in the in-house publication, EFCC Alert, released on Sunday, quoted Bawa as saying, “I can tell you for free that the new Department of Intelligence that we have created is working wonders.

“They have come up with a lot of intelligence. In one of them, a governor in a North-Central state within the last six years (one individual) has withdrawn over N60 billion in cash.

“We are looking at all of that, and I assure you that at the end of all of our investigations, Nigerians are going to be briefed of what we are doing behind the scene on cybercrime, politically exposed persons as well as engaging government agencies to ensure that we have better processes and procedures on how to do government business.”

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