A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday gave directives for the freezing of the salary account of Kogi State Government in connection with the N20 billion loan allegedly obtained from Sterling Bank Plc.
Justice Tijjani Ringim, who delivered the judgement said the order will remain in force pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This followed an ex-parte application by the EFCC before the judge which, according to the agency, was brought pursuant 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 commission (EFCC) received a credible and direct intelligence report that led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in account No. 0073572696, domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.
“The commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management of Sterling Bank Plc approved an offer of N20 billion bailout loan facility for Kogi State government.
“According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, the Kogi State government applied for a credit facility of N20 billion with an interest rate of 9 per cent for a tenure of 240 months from Sterling Bank Plc,” The EFCC application to the court disclosed.
The counsel to the EFCC, A.O. Mohammed, told the court that the directive was given in order to stop further squandering of the funds in the account which was originally meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the State.
According to the EFCC counsel, the N20 billion loan, instead of being used for the purpose which it was granted, the Kogi State Government rather transferred the money from the loan account and lodged it into a fixed interest-yielding account with Sterling bank.
The presiding Judge further directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make a quarterly report on the progress of its investigation to the court.
The matter has been adjourned till December for submission of the investigation report.