The panel investigating the tenure of a former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Tuesday received testimonies on how Access Bank Plc withdrew the controversial N852.9 million funds of the Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB.
The panel is investigating the management of the state finances between October 2010 and October 2014, with a particular focus on the whereabouts of the N852.9 million allegedly mismanaged or diverted by Mr. Fayemi, who is currently the Mines and Steel Development Minister.
The amount was a counterpart fund advanced to the state by Access Bank as a loan to finance the SUBEB as required by the law establishing the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.
A witness, Kayode Adejuyigbe, who is the Branch Manager of Access Bank, Secretariat Road, Ado-Ekiti, told the Silas Oyewole-led judicial commission that the bank took the decision to withdraw the funds because the Ekiti State government did not fulfil some terms in the loan.
Mr. Adejuyigbe, however, said that the bank paid N71,704,020.00 as a refund of excess interest charged on the fund into the account of the state government, following a demand by the subsequent Ayodele Fayose administration.
He said the Office of the Accountant General of Ekiti State acknowledged receipt of the refund.
“I know and can confirm that N852,936,713.92 was lodged into the 2012 SUBEB/UBEC Project Account on 25th November 2013 and I am aware that it was a project counterpart fund required by SUBEB to access 2012 Matching Grant from the Federal Government as stated in the offer letter,” he explained.
“It was lodged based on the rules of the bank and it was lodged into the account of Ekiti State government and later transferred to SUBEB.
“At the point of lodgement to the state government, some documents were outstanding but based on the offer letter executed which contains all the terms and conditions binding, the loan was duly accepted by officials of government and the loan was disbursed.
“The same amount was disbursed by the federal government on 25th January 2014 but we did our own on 25th November 2013. At the time the money was disbursed, our own (counterpart fund loaned to Ekiti State government) was in the account before the FGN/UBEC disbursed their own in January 2014.”
He rejected the assertions by the commission’s counsel, Sunday Bamise, that SUBEB was not aware of the whereabouts of the cash.
“Ekiti SUBEB was fully aware of the transactions, they were copied letters from the bank,” he said.
“SUBEB was aware of all what transpired based on the letter written by SUBEB which we responded to and several cheques issued by SUBEB into the same account.
“I am aware that cheques were issued to SUBEB contractors, we provided the counterpart funding to SUBEB because they were meant to access the matching grant which the bank provided.”
He explained further that, “The facility was granted to Ekiti State government and not SUBEB. Our correspondence was to the Commissioner for Finance. We recalled the (N852 million) facility after several letters and we notified the Commissioner for Finance about the action of reversing the facility.
“The bank has the right to recall the loan once the terms of the offer are not met. We don’t need the consent of SUBEB to withdraw the cash because the agreement was with Ekiti State government and not SUBEB.”
Another witness, an Assistant Director of Finance and Accounts of UBEC, Adamu Misau, while giving evidence at the panel sitting, said the N852 million cash was withdrawn by Access Bank on October 8, 2014.
Mr. Misau told the panel that the governor, Mr. Fayose wrote a letter dated 22 April 2015 urging UBEC to investigate the matter and that the agency should rescind its decision to stop Ekiti from further accessing the funds.
The UBEC official read to the hearing of the panel contents of his witness statement on oath relevant to the evidence he gave at the hearing.
The allegation that Mr. Fayemi withdrew the funds in a fraudulent manner gave rise to the investigative panel.
Mr. Fayemi is however in court to stall proceedings of the panel and had earlier threatened that the commission was in contempt of a court hearing stating that the matter still pending.