Yahya Bello dares EFCC over N20bn bailout fund
Governor Yahaya Bello has slammed the Abdulrasheed Bawa-led EFCC for deceiving Nigerians and lying against the Kogi government that it squandered the N20 billion bailout given to the state by the federal government, asserting the anti-graft agency wanted to nail him “at all cost.”
Mr Bello’s government is also seeking a public apology from the anti-corruption agency, accusing it of being bent on denting the state’s image.
“Finally, while we reserve all our legal rights against the EFCC, we reiterate our demand for an unreserved apology from the EFCC as contained in our letter to the chairman of the EFCC on September 6. We hope the EFCC will honour the said demand to regain the trust of Nigerians,” the Kogi Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, said in a statement on Sunday. “The state government again urges the commission to tender (a) public apology to it and refrain from measures that can further damage the image of the nation.”
The Kogi government also dared the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to publicise its investigations on the purported N20 billion bailout fraud.
The EFCC, in August, alleged that the N19.3 billion Kogi bailout domiciled in Sterling Bank was misappropriated and freezing the state’s bank account on orders of a Lagos High Court. On Friday, the EFCC withdrew its suit, seeking forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout fund.
However, the Kogi government had kicked against the withdrawal, charging the anti-graft body to make its findings on the fund public.
The statement also urged Nigerians to ask the EFCC whose custody it found a part of the bailout fund said to have been dissipated.
The Kogi government insisted that the 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 Kogi did not enter into any agreement, either with Sterling Bank or the EFCC, to return any 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,” Mr Bello’s government stated.
It added that the EFCC violated an earlier order of the court, failing to report its findings to the court. The Kogi government accused the anti-corruption agency of “unceremoniously withdrew the suit, without facts of its investigation to the court and the public.”
“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?” the statement further noted. “Nigerians also deserve to know what becomes of the criminal allegation that the EFCC made, when it informed the Federal High Court that N666,666,666.64 out of the N20 billion bailout loan had been dissipated, and that same was being traced.”
It also pointed out that Mr Bello’s government “as of October 2019, fully disbursed our bailout funds and are already religiously repaying the loan to Sterling Bank Plc.”