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‘N19.3bn Kogi salary bail-out funds hidden in Sterling Bank returned to the CBN’ — EFCC

The sum of N19,333,333,333 which was recovered from the Kogi Salary Bailout Account ‘hidden’ in Sterling Bank has been returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The above was the submission of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through its Head of Media, Wilson Uwujaren.

According to a statement issued on Friday (yesterday), Uwujaren revealed that the CBN had since confirmed the receipt of the funds.

According to him, “This effectively puts to rest the campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi State Government that no fund was recovered from its bail-out account.”

The CBN in a letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 and dated November 9, 2021, notified the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa that it has received the money.

The letter reads in part: “We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021, with Ref. No: CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/REC-STE/VOL.4/047 on the above subject and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below: Bank: Sterling Bank Plc; Amount: N19, 333, 333,333.36; Date of receipt: 04 November 2021.”

While stating that the return of the fund complies with the October 15, 2021, Order of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi Lagos directing the unfreezing of the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account to enable Sterling Bank to remit the balance in the account to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Uwujaren further revealed that Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave the Order pursuant to an application filed by the EFCC.

It would be recalled that the anti-graft agency had informed the judge that the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where the account was domiciled had acknowledged the existence of the said account with the staggering sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 in its books.

The anti-graft agency had further told the court that, “The sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen”, with an addition that, “The management of Sterling Bank Plc, has, pursuant to a letter dated 15 September 2021, signed by its Managing Director, indicated an intention to return the total sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 back to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

The Commission had then prayed the judge that, “It is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen to enable the management of Sterling Bank Plc effect the transfer/ return of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 back to the coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria, where the said bailout funds were disbursed.”

A vacation Judge, Justice Tijani Garba had on August 31, 2021, ordered the freezing of the account, following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC.

The Commission had in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, explained that it received a credible and direct intelligence, which led to the tracing of the funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.

Upon hearing of the EFCC’s application, Justice Ringim on August 31, 2021, ordered the freezing of the account and directed the publication of the Order in a national newspaper by the EFCC.

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