Yahaya Bello accuses EFCC of fraud for probing his government for fraud

Yahaya Bello says his government is the most transparent and accountable state government in Nigeria.

Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello (left) and EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa (right)

The Yahaya Bello-led Kogi State government has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of fraudulent misrepresentation of facts to mislead the court.

The agency had, days ago, secured a court order to freeze Kogi's salary bailout account, domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, which it was investigating for alleged mismanagement.

The government reportedly obtained over N20 billion loan from the bank to augment salary payment, and running cost of the state.

However, the fund was then transferred from the state's loan account and kept in an interest-yielding account with Sterling Bank.

In response to the court order on Thursday, September 2, 2021, Kogi's Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, accused the EFCC of fraud at a media briefing attended by other state officials.

He said the government never ordered Sterling to create a fixed deposit account to yield interest, and that such an account does not exist.

The commissioner said the account frozen by the EFCC is an internal (mirror) account operated by the bank to manage the state's salary bailout facility, reading a statement issued by Sterling as corroboration.

The bank's statement noted that the state's three bailout accounts have a combined N45,815,385 as of August 31, just before the EFCC's freeze order.

The commissioner stated strongly that bank statements and all other records exist to prove that the government did everything by the book.

"We remain concerned that a federal agency of the calibre and responsibilities of the EFCC which is charged to combat financial fraud is the one engaging in fraud and misrepresentation of facts for the purpose of securing needless orders meant to ridicule a court of competent jurisdiction while simultaneously attempting to drag the pristine white robes of the most transparent and accountable state government in Nigeria, to with, the Kogi State Government led by His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello in their barrel of palm oil," he said.

Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court in Lagos granted the anti-graft agency's ex-parte application to freeze the account pending conclusion of investigations, in a ruling delivered on Tuesday, August 31.

The agency is to make quarterly reports to the court on the progress of its investigation.

Ringim adjourned the case till December 1 for the EFCC's first progress report of its investigation.

Fanwo said Kogi will challenge the ex-parte order, and sue EFCC for allegedly presenting false documents to mislead the court.

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