The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has acknowledged receiving N19.3 billion ‘recovered’ by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from the Kogi State Salary Bailout account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, an official has said.
The EFCC disclosed this in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, on Friday.
It said the return of the money followed a court order directing the unfreezing of the Kogi State Salary Bailout account to enable Sterling Bank to remit the balance in the account to the CBN.
The judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke, of the Federal High Court in Lagos had in October vacated the order of forfeiture he earlier placed on the N20 billion bailout funds.
EFCC had accused the Kogi State government of keeping the said amount in an interest-yielding account rather than the account opened to cater for workers’ salaries.
One of the grounds was that questions resulting in the commencement of the suit had been clarified, and an intention had been shown to return the sum of N19.3 billion to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Recall the anti-corruption agency had filed a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of an ex parte application before Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court in Lagos to freeze the state’s account to stop further dispensation of the funds in the fixed account.
After listening to the EFCC application, Mr Ringim on August 31, ordered the freezing of the account and directed the publication of the order in a national newspaper by the EFCC.
However, citing a letter by the CBN dated November 9, the EFCC said the central bank informed the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, of an acknowledgement receipt of the money received.
The commission said the receipt of the money by the CBN had effectively put to rest a ”smear campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi State government that no fund was recovered from its bailout account.”
“The transfer has put paid to any further controversy regarding source and ownership of the funds and most importantly, aborted the fund’s dissipation,” the commission stated.
The central bank’s letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 and dated November 9, 2021 was addressed to the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Mr Bawa, reads, “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.”
EFCC had told the court that the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where the Kogi State 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 September 15, 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 EFCC 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 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.
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