At last, Sterling Bank returns Kogi bail out fund to CBN


Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State

By Richard Elesho
After months of denials characterised by barefaced lies and name calling, balance of the scandalous N20b bailout fund kept in a fixed deposit account by the Kogi State Government, has been repatriated to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. The return was made by Sterling Bank on Thursday, November 4th.
Kogi state government had denied hiding the money, accusing EFCC of mischief. But in a statement on Friday, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesman of the commission, said the money had been transferred to the apex bank.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has acknowledged the receipt of the sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 (nineteen billion, three hundred and thirty-three million, three hundred and thirty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three naira, thirty-six kobo) recovered the EFCC from the Kogi State Salary Bail-out account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc. 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 apex bank in a letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 and dated 9th November, 2021 informed the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa that it has received the money,” he said.
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
“The return of the money to the apex bank  is in compliance 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. Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave the Order pursuant to an application filed by the EFCC.
“The Commission had told the court 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 Commission further brought to the attention of the court that “The sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen”, adding that “the management of Sterling Bank PIc, has, pursuant to a letter dated 15 September, 2021, signed by its Managing Director, indicated intention to return the total sum of N19, 333,333,333.36 back to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
“The transfer has put paid to any further controversy regarding source and ownership of the funds and most importantly, aborted the funds dissipation.
On August 31, 2021, Justice Tijani Garba Ringim, a vacation Judge, had ordered the freezing of the account, following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC,” it said.
After a world press conference in which the Kogi State Government frantically denied the existence of the Account, threatening to sue the EFCC for defamation, the Kogi State House of Assembly accused the anti-graft agency of playing politics over the matter. The lawmakers also threatened to arrest the Managing Director of Sterling Bank for his refusal to appear before it.
At press time, the threat has not been withdrawn.