The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Friday withdrew the suit seeking the forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout fund granted to the Kogi State Government by a new generation bank.
The money which was meant for the payment of Kogi State workers was alleged to have been instead domiciled in an interest-yielding account with the bank.
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Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke granted the order of withdrawal sequel to a notice of discontinuance filed and argued by the counsel to EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN).
Pinheiro, in one of the six grounds listed upon which the judge granted the prayer, said questions resulting in the suit had been clarified and an intention had been shown to return the sum of N19,333,333,333.36 to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He said, “That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 with the name KOGI STATE SALARY BAIL OUT ACCOUNT is domiciled, has since acknowledged the existence of the said account in their book but claimed same was a mirror account.
“That the sum of N19,333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen pursuant to the Order of this Honourable Court.
“That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 is domiciled, has pursuant to a letter dated 21st September, 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.”
Justice Tijjani Ringim had on August 31, granted an ex-parte application brought by the EFCC for an interim forfeiture of the said amount in a Sterling Bank account belonging to the state government.
Recall that the Mr Kingsley Fanwo, Kogi State Commissioner of Information had at a media briefing denied having the sum of N19,3bn or any other sum in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank Plc as alleged, stating that the state government judiciously used the funds for its intended purpose.
According to him, as of August 31 that the court order was made, the Kogi State Salary Account No. 0073499012 where the sum of N19,999,000,000 was transferred to since 2019 for the payment of salaries had a credit balance of N44,816,195.24.
“That the allegation that the Kogi State Government authorized the opening of a fixed deposit account wherein it deposited the said Bailout loan of 20billion for the purpose of generating interest for itself is false,” he added.