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N19bn bailout: Kogi tackles EFCC over alleged fund diversion

The Kogi State Government has debunked allegations levelled against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the purported diversion of about N19 billion bailout fund received from the Federal Government. The EFCC had, a few days ago, obtained an ex-parte order from a Federal High Court in Lagos to freeze an account allegedly held by the Kogi State Government in one of the new generation banks.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the said account: No. 007357269 had a total deposit of N19.333 billion but the sum of N666.666 million had been misappropriated following its diversion to a fixed deposit account. Commissioner for Information, Kogi State, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, who addressed journalists yesterday on the issue in Abuja, accused the antigraft agency of pandering to the whims and caprices of some opposition politicians in order to score cheap political points. Fanwo was accompanied to the briefing by the Commissioner for Finance, Mukadam Asiwaju Idris, the State Auditor-General, Accountant- General, among other senior officials of the state government. According to Fanwo, the Kogi State Government never had the sum of N19.333 billion or any other sum in a fixed deposit account with the said bank and never gave any instruction to the said bank to fix on its behalf, its bailout fund or any other funds. He said as of July 23, 2019 when the state government utilised the bailout funds for the payment of salaries and allowances of civil servants and up to August 31, 2021 when the court order was procured by EFCC, it had only N46 million cumulatively in the salary and bailout accounts in the bank.

“The allegation that the Kogi State Government authorised the opening of a fixed deposit account wherein it deposited the said bailout loan of N20 billion for the purpose of generating interest for itself is false. “The Kogi State Government gave no mandate or instruction to the bank to open a fixed deposit account on its behalf as it could barely meet the salary obligations for which the funds were received at the material time.” He said the bank, by its letter of September 1, 2021, confirmed in writing that the ‘the Kogi State Government did not currently operate or maintain a fixed deposit account with it.

“The letter confirmed that account number 0073572696 cited in the alleged order of the court was ‘an internal (mirror) account operated by the bank for the purposes of managing the Kogi State bailout facility. “While we are yet to conclude on the EFCC’s motive for this dishonourable act, we cannot but wonder if the ‘new’ EFCC is now lending its machineries for the use of politicians and detractors to tarnish the image of a state that has enjoyed the confidence and commendation of domestic and international partners as a bastion of accountability and integrity.,” Fanwo said. The anti-graft agency, he said, had not only embarrassed itself, but has reduced its integrity to zero level, by not investigating properly the purported allegations before dragging the state to the law court as well as the court of public opinion.

Fanwo vowed that the Kogi State Government would pursue the cause of justice and ensure that all the politically vested interest behind the allegations were exposed. He, however, advised the EFCC to retrace its steps in order to avoid losing relevance in the anti-corruption war in the country.

 

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