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N20bn bailout loan: EFCC withdraws case against Kogi government

N20bn bailout loan: EFCC withdraws case against Kogi government
October 15
14:45 2021

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has withdrawn the suit seeking the forfeiture of N20billion bailout funds granted to the Kogi state government.

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On August 31, 2021, Tijani Ringim, a Lagos high court judge, had frozen the Kogi state account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, following an ex parte application brought by the EFCC.

The commission had alleged that the money, which was meant for the payment of salaries in the state, was instead kept in an interest-yielding account with the name ‘Kogi State Salary Bailout Account’.

At the resumption of proceedings on Friday, Kemi Pinheiro, counsel to the EFCC, moved an application dated October 13, seeking discontinuance of the matter.

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The application titled ‘Notice of discontinuance’ stated that “the applicant, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has resolved to discontinue this matter in SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1086/2021 pending before this Honourable Court against the Respondent’s Account herein”.

One of the grounds of the application was that N19.3 billion will be returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 with the name Kogi salary bailout account is domiciled, has since acknowledged the existence of the said account in their book but claimed same was a mirror account,” the application reads.

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“That the sum of N19.3 billion 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 Sep.21, 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.

“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 were disbursed.”

Granting the EFCC’s application, Chukwujekwu Aneke, the presiding judge, said: “I have listened to the submission of the learned silk for the application, Mr Kemi Pinheiro SAN, vis-a-vis perused the motion to withdraw. My humble opinion is that application is meritorious and ought to be granted. Accordingly, the application is granted as prayed.”

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Responding, Sam Erogbo, counsel to the Kogi state government, commended the EFCC for its “professional approach”.

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