Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi has adjourned until October 15, the hearing of all applications relating to the N20 billion bailout loan allegedly belonging to the Kogi State government, said to have been warehoused by the Sterling Bank Plc.
The adjournment was sequel to the application made by counsel to Kogi State government, Sam Erogbo (SAN), who told the court that he needed time to study the counter affidavit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to the processes.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the counsel to Kogi State government, Erogbo told the court that his client has filed process against the interim order granted by Justice Ringim and that the EFCC has equally filed counter to the processes.
Erogbo told the court that he needed time to respond to the EFCC’s counter. Consequently, he asked the court for a short date.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, admitted being served with the processes and that he has equally filed counter to such.
Following the adjournment request of the Kogi State counsel, Justice Aneke, adjourned the matter till October 15, for a hearing of all applications.
Recall that Sahara Reporters had reported that a Federal High Court in Lagos on August 31 ordered the freezing of a bank account belonging to the Kogi State government over a N20 billion loan obtained from Sterling Bank Plc.
This followed arguments from the EFCC’s counsel, Abbas Mohammed, who informed the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the remaining and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.
Justice Tijjani Garba ordered that the account should be frozen pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.
SaharaReporters also reported that the EFCC had approached the court for the order in an ex parte application brought pursuant to section 44(2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the EFCC Act, and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
The EFCC in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte summons deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC stated that the Commission received a credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.
He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management of Sterling Bank plc approved an offer of N20,000,000,000.00 bailout loan facility for Kogi State Government.
According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Honourable Commissioner, applied for a Credit facility of Twenty Billion Naira (N20, 000,000,000) with an interest rate of 9 per cent for a tenure of 240 months from Sterling Bank Plc”.
He added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the State Government.
He stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by the His Excellency, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Asiwaju Asiru Idris, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.
He stated that before the said application for a loan, Kogi State Government on the 19th June 2019 vides a letter to the Manager Sterling Bank Plc, Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.
“That upon the opening of the said account with No. 0072969301, Sterling bank Plc disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20,000,000,000.00 to the account.
“That rather than used the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fix deposit account No. 0073572696.
“That on the 25 day of July 2019 Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.
“That the said Account sought to be frozen received the Sum of Twenty Billion Naira, (N20,000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019. That as at 1st day of April, 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36. That we are still tracing why the sum of N666,666,666.64 has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.
“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated.”
After listening to the counsel’s submissions, Justice Ringim granted the request and ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make quarterly reports to the court on the progress of its investigation.