Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
The Kogi State House of Assembly is sparing nothing to ensure Governor Yahaya Bello’s safe passage through the troubled waters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC over the N20b loan scandal.
The lawmakers on Tuesday rose in strong defence of the Governor, passed a vote of confidence on the executive and demanded prompt apology from the anti-graft agency which they accused of acting disgracefully.
The House made the resolution following a motion raised by the Speaker of the House, Kolawole Matthew urging the House to pass a vote of confidence on the State executive for “prudent management’ of the state resources.
Kolawole in his motion said taking the state government to court and subsequently freezing the said account was an affront on the entire state, hence the need for the apology.
He said the EFCC action was political and and constituted a disgrace to the entire state.
He therefore asked the House to resolve to demand for an apology and failure of the EFCC to apologize to the governor and the state, a legal action should be instituted against the anti-graft agency.
Following various secondment and supports for the motion by members of the House, the legislators unanimously passed the vote of confidence on the governor, as well as demanded for unreserved apology from the EFCC.
The Speaker said, “My Distinguished Honourable Members, it is shocking that few days ago, the Nigerian Social Media space and Television Stations were agog with a screaming FAKE NEWS of 20 Billion Naira, Bailout Loan for Salaries approved by the Federal Government, through Sterling Bank, diverted into a fixed deposit account at Sterling Bank, Lokoja.
“That, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raised the false alarm of the said 20Billion naira warehoused in a fixed deposit account, yielding interest; thereby misleading a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to grant an order to freeze an account (0073572696) purportedly belonging to Kogi State Government in Sterling Bank PLC; which in reality does not belong to the Kogi State Government according to Sterling Bank.
“That, it was alleged that part of the same fund was drawn down, without using the fund for what it was meant for. These false statements have now been debunked by the State Government in a Press Statement and Sterling Bank which allegedly holds the account.
“My Distinguished Colleagues, it is now on record that Sterling Bank Plc, on 1st September 2021, in an official response to a demand letter from the Kogi State Government refuted the EFCC’s allegation in totality.
“That upon hearing the news. I immediately instructed the Public Accounts Committee of the House to investigate the disbursement of the last tranche of the Bailout Funds and the utilization of same. The Committee established in its Report that there was no truth to the said allegation as the Bailout facility had been totally drawn down by October 2019.
“Consequently, it is clear that the actions of the EFCC was an attempt to tarnish the image of His Excellency, Alh. Yahaya Bello and distract him. The said Report and the official response by the Bank therefore clearly vindicates the Governor and his administration.
“My Distinguished Colleagues, it is equally on record, that, the Governor has received high commendations from various organizations for being the only State that ever scored 100% in the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS) among the Nigerian States.
“Governor Yahaya Bello, equally received commendation from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for being one of the few States to have adopted the IPSAS Accrual Basis Accounting, which is targeted at ensuring transparency and accountability in financial reporting in public sector.
“From the above statements, it is now established that the Governor has prudently managed the finances of the State
“NOW, BE IT RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS: That based on the Report of the House Committee on Public Accounts, clearing the Governor of any wrongdoing regarding the Bailout funds or its utilization, the House do pass a VOTE of CONFIDENCE on Alh, Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State and his Administration for prudently managing the financial resources of the State.
“That, the House should condemn the EFCC for raising a false alarm, to put the Governor and the State in bad light.
“That, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should tender a public apology to the Governor and Kogi State for the embarrassment
“That the state should take a legal action against the EFCC for orchestrating the falsehood and propagating same.”