Governor Yahaya Bello has attacked the Abdulrasheed Bawa-led EFCC for misleading Nigerians and lying about the Kogi government squandering the N20 billion federal bailout, claiming the anti-graft agency was out to get him “at any costs.”
Mr. Bello’s government is also demanding a public apology from the anti-corruption agency, accusing it of attempting to tarnish 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 challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make the results of its probe into the alleged N20 billion bailout fraud public.
In August, the EFCC accused Sterling Bank of misappropriating the N19.3 billion Kogi bailout, suspending the state’s bank account on the orders of a Lagos High Court. The EFCC withdrew its petition, which sought forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout cash, on Friday.
The Kogi administration, on the other hand, had fought the withdrawal, demanding that the anti-graft body make the fund’s findings public.
The message also asked Nigerians to inquire about the EFCC, where it was discovered that a portion of the bailout monies had been misappropriated.
The Kogi administration argued that the N19.3 billion transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria by Sterling Bank does not belong to the Kogi government, and that Kogi did not engage into any arrangement with Sterling Bank or the EFCC to return any funds 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.”