The Kogi State government has threatened to take legal action against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N20 billion salary bailout funds said to be in fixed deposit at a commercial bank by the state government.
Specifically, the Commissioner of Information and Communication in the state, Kingsley Fanwo, made the threat at a press briefing at the Kogi Liaison Office in Abuja, on Thursday.
The commissioner accused the anti-graft agency of a deliberate attempt to malign the integrity of the state governor, Yahaya Bello, saying the claims that the governor did not disburse the said bailout funds released by the Federal Government in 2019 for payment of salary arrears owed civil servants in the state are false and malicious.
This comes after a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday ordered the freezing of the Kogi State salary bailout account domiciled in Sterling Bank over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.
Ripples Nigeria reported that the EFCC had made an ex-parte application before the court, which according to the agency, was according to section 44(2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act and under the court’s jurisdiction.
The presiding judge, Tijjani Ringim, who gave the order, said it would subsist pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the EFCC.
In its argument, the anti-graft agency had explained that the loan was meant to augment the payment of salary and running cost of the state, alleging that the state government kept the money in an interest-yielding account with Sterling Bank.
Also, the EFCC claimed that as of April 1, 2021, the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36, adding that it was still in the process of tracing what the sum of N666,666,666.64, a shortfall of the said sum was used for.
However, Fanwo told journalists at the briefing that the state government disbursed the said funds since October 2019.
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