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CBN confirms receipt of Kogi’s ‘hidden’ N19.3bn bailout funds, EFCC says

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Yahaya Bello

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has received the N19.3 billion recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from the Kogi State Salary account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc.

The EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, who disclosed this in a statement on Friday, said the CBN acknowledged the receipt of the sum in a letter with reference number DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099, dated November 9, 2021 and addressed to the commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa.

The letter read: “We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021, with Ref. No: CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/REC-STE/VOL.4/047 on the above subject and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below: Bank: Sterling Bank Plc; Amount: N19, 333, 333,333.36; Date of receipt: 04 November 2021.”

The Federal High Court, Lagos, had on September 1 ordered the freezing of the Kogi State account in Sterling Bank over the bailout funds.

In an application filed by its counsel, A. O. Mohammed, the commission told the court that the N20 billion which was meant to augment the payment of salary and running cost of the state government was kept in an interest yielding account with the bank.

However, the Kogi State government has vehemently denied the existence of the recovered amount or any other sum in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank Plc.

The commission in October applied to discontinue the case following the decision of Sterling Bank management to return the money to CBN.

The State House of Assembly had also threatened to order the arrest of Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, if he fails to appear before the lawmakers to clarify the controversy surrounding the bailout funds.

READ ALSO: EFCC returns N19.3bn Kogi salary bailout ‘kept’ in Sterling Bank to CBN

In the statement, the EFCC said the CBN’s letter put to rest the argument and denials by the Kogi government that no fund was recovered from its bailout account.

The statement read: “The return of the money to the apex bank is in compliance with October 15, 2021, Order issued by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, which directed that the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account should be unfrozen.

“The order which the EFCC applied was to enable Sterling Bank to remit the balance in the account to the CBN.

“The Commission reportedly informed the court that the management of Sterling Bank Plc had domiciled the money in the said account.

“The EFCC explained to the Court that The sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen noting that the management of Sterling Bank PIc, has, pursuant to a letter dated 15 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.”

The Commission asked the Court that it is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account was unfrozen to enable the management of Sterling Bank PIc to effect the transfer/ return of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 back to the coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria, where the said bailout funds were disbursed.”

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