The Kogi State Government has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make public, its findings and investigations on the alleged N20 billion bailout fund fraud.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, on Sunday, insisting that despite EFCC’s withdrawal of the case, the agency should publicly publish its fact.

The EFCC had earlier withdrawn a case against Kogi State Government after it allegedly accused it of misappropriating a N19.3 billion fund domiciled in Sterling Bank.

Fanwo stated that the alleged sum of N19.3 billion which Sterling Bank had undertaken to the EFCC to transfer to the Central Bank of Nigeria, does not belong to the Kogi Government, and that the state did not enter into any agreement, either with Sterling Bank or the EFCC, to return any bailout fund to the CBN.

“It is our belief that the withdrawal of the suit by the EFCC without informing the Court of the facts, is a deliberate and face-saving effort by the commission, all in a bid to ‘nail’ at all cost, the Kogi government and tarnish its image,” Fanwo said.

He urged that EFCC should publish on its official platforms, the report of its investigation as to the ownership of the said sum of N19,333,333,333.36, and the whereabouts of the sum of N666,666,666.64, which they alleged had been dissipated.

He added that “Nigerians should further ask the EFCC whether a commercial bank can simply undertake to transfer a customer’s money from the customers’ account without the order of any court mandating such transfer or a forfeiture?

“Nigerians also deserve to know what becomes of the criminal allegation that the EFCC made, when it informed the Federal High Court that the sum of N666,666,666.64 out of the N20 billion bailout loan had been dissipated and that same was being traced.

”Nigerians will want to know if the EFCC has found the money, if so, in whose custody was it found? Have charges been preferred against the custodian of the said funds.”

He disclosed that as of October 2019, Kogi State had fully disbursed its bailout funds and already religiously repaying the loan to Sterling Bank Plc and reiterated demands for an unreserved apology from the EFCC as contained in our letter to the Chairman of the EFCC on Sept. 6.

“We hope the EFCC will honour the said demand to regain the trust of Nigerians,” Fanwo said.

He also added that the Kogi State Government on October 4, wrote to Sterling Bank, seeking further clarifications on the contentious account, adding that the Bank did not only reinforce their earlier stance that the account is a Mirror Account; it also made it unequivocally clear that the Kogi State Government has nothing to do with the opening or operation of the account.

The EFCC had instituted a suit marked FHC/1/CS/1086/2021 against the Kogi state government seeking to freeze its account with account number 0073572696.

A Lagos High Court on August 31, 2021 froze Kogi State government’s account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, following EFCC’s ex-parte application before Justice Tijani Ringim.

Earlier report indicated that one of the grounds for discontinuance of the suit was that the management of Sterling Bank Plc clarified the questions resulting in the commencement of the suit and intentions to return the money to CBN has been shown.

“That it is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen to enable the management of sterling bank plc, effect the transfer/return of the sum to the coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria where the said bailout funds was disbursed,” the anti-graft agency added.

The presiding judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke held that the application ought to be granted after listening to the submission of the applicant.

“My humble opinion is that the application is meritorious and ought to be granted. Accordingly, the application is granted as prayed,” the judge ruled.

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