Anti corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has reopened the case of N20 billion bailout fund meant to pay the backlog of Kogi State workers’ salaries which was allegedly hidden away in a commercial bank account by the state government led by Governor Yahaya Bello, insiders have disclosed.
The bailout meant to pay workers and clear the salary backlog was said to have been diverted into an interest-yielding account.
The money was put in Sterling Bank, with the account name: Kogi State salary bail-out account.
The EFCC in August 2021 approached the court to seek an order to ensure the money was forfeited and returned to the coffers of the Nigerian government.
The account was frozen by the court following an ex-parte application brought by the EFCC, pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution.
After a short-lived legal battle, the money was returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The CBN had in a document, confirmed the receipt of the money in correspondence to the EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, and signed by the Director, Development Finance Department.
“We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021 and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below,” the CBN said in the document.
The anti corruption agency has now reopened the case, according sources familiar with the matter.
It was gathered that EFCC operatives stormed the Kogi State Government House to arrest the cashier of the Government House and other workers involved in the fraudulent transaction.
However, the operatives of the agency were stopped by thugs and some police officers working for the state government.
According to an eyewitness, top officials in the state government insisted the personnel of the EFCC will not leave the Government house with the cashier.
“When they came, they took the cashier that created the account and got the money to the bank. The cashier signed for the state government.
“They were dragging him but the people in the Government House did not allow the EFCC to take him.
“They quickly called in some police officers and the thugs the government uses. They locked the gate and said they would not allow the cashier to be taken away,” the eyewitness told Sahara Reporters.
In a swift reaction, the Kogi State government through Kingsley Fanwo, Kogi information commissioner, quickly issued a press statement accusing the EFCC of attempting to abduct the cashier.
The state government claimed the EFCC acted against a court order restraining it from making any move related to the bailout fund.
“Till date, the EFCC has failed to file a defence in the matter while the EFCC’s appeal has also not been determined by the court of appeal.
“The said order of interlocutory injunction granted by the trial court has also not been set aside.
“More ridiculous is the claim by the EFCC operatives that came to effect the arrest that they were unaware of the injunction.
“The question is, can the EFCC claim to be ignorant of an Order of Court which they have already appealed against the ruling, refusing to set same aside? To us, this is an attempt by an agency created by law to drag the rule of law in the mud and operate above the law,” the statement reads.