N19.3b will be restored to CBN after a dispute.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC abandoned its lawsuit on Friday, demanding forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout monies provided by Sterling Bank to the Kogi State Government.
The money was supposed to be used to pay Kogi State employees, but it was instead allegedly stashed in a bank account with a high interest rate.
Following an application submitted and argued by the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, leading Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke granted the order of withdrawal.
The judge granted the motion on six reasons, according to Pinheiro, who also stated that “the EFCC is a responsible entity.” Also Read This: N50.8b Bailout: How Yahaya Bello Missed The Golden Opportunity To Be A Good Governor
One of the grounds was that the questions that led to the filing of the complaint had been answered, and an intention to restore the sum of N19,333,333.36 to the Central Bank of Nigeria had been demonstrated.
On August 31, Justice Tijjani Ringim granted an ex-parte plea filed by the EFCC for the temporary forfeiture of N19, 333, 333.36 billion, which was believed to be held in the state’s Sterling Bank account number 0073572696.
After hearing arguments from the EFCC’s counsel, Abbas Muhammed, Justice Ringim issued the interim forfeiture order.
The injunction was stayed pending the outcome of an investigation or prospective prosecution by the EFCC, according to the judge.
When the matter was brought before Justice Aneke on September 28, 2021, he deferred the hearing to hear all of the loan applications.
Pinheiro submitted the EFCC’s grounds for discontinuance, which were contained in an October 13, 2021 filing, at the restart of proceedings on Friday. Also Read This: Join Kogi State News Social Media Platforms to Receive Latest News Free
The application titled ‘Notice of discontinuance’ stated that ‘the Applicant, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has resolved to discontinue this matter in SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1086/2021 pending before this Honourable Court against the Respondent’s Account herein.”
The grounds upon which discontunuance is brought are:
“That the account upon which this Suit was instituted was frozen by an Order of this Honourable Court.
“That the Management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 with the name KOGI STATE SALARY BAIL OUT ACCOUNT is domiciled has clarified the questions resulting to the commencement of this suit
“That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 with the name KOGI STATE SALARY BAIL OUT ACCOUNT is domiciled, has since acknowledged the existence of the said account in their book but claimed same was a mirror account.
“That the sum of N19,333,333,333.36 is still standing in the credit of the account frozen pursuant to the Order of this Honourable Court.
“That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 is domiciled, has pursuant to a letter dated 21st 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.
“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 was disbursed.”
Granting the EFCC’s application, Justice Aneke held: “I have listened to the submission of the learned Silk for the application, Mr Kemi Pinheiro SAN vis-a-vis perused the motion to withdraw. My humble opinion is that application is meritorious and ought to be granted. Also Read This: Kogi Govt Vows To Take EFCC To Court.
Accordingly, the application is granted as prayed.”
Counsel to the Kogi State Government Professor Sam Erogbo (SAN) commended the EFCC for its “professional approach”.
He prayed the court that the interim forfeiture order earlier granted should be vacated for the purpose of clarity. But Justice Aneke declined.
The judge noted that the EFCC was “very clear in their motion to withdraw which is clearly established in paragraph 6.