The Kogi State House of Assembly has berated the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, (EFCC), for allegedly accusing Governor Yahaya Bello of diverting N20 Billion into a fixed deposit account.
The house at its plenary on Tuesday described the report of the anti-graft agency ordering the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to grant an order to freeze an account purportedly belonging to the Kogi State Government in Sterling Bank PLC as an attempt to tarnish the image of Governor Bello and distract him.
In a motion presented before the house by the speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly, Prince Mathew Kolawole and read by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Mohammed, condemned the EFCC for raising a false alarm to put the Governor and the State in a bad light.
While passing a vote of confidence on Gov. Bello, the Assembly directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to tender an unreserved public apology to the Governor and Kogi State for the embarrassment.
The assembly, however, threatened to take legal action against the EFCC for orchestrating the falsehood and propagating same.
The motion reads in part, “My Distinguished Honourable Members, it is shocking that a 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.
“Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raised the false alarm of the said 20 billion 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.
“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.
“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.
“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 were an attempt to tarnish the image of His Excellency, 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 a 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 the public sector.
From the above statements, it is now established that the Governor has prudently managed the finances of the State”.
While supporting the motion, Kilani Olushola Olumo, representing Ijumu State constituency noted that the GYB brand is precious to Kogites, and the House will not allow it to be dented.
Dahiru Ahmed of Okene II Constituency who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee in his submission noted that after due oversight functions and interface with parties, financial bodies and institutions involved, the allegation is just a move to tarnish the image of the Governor because of his political ambition.
Musa Jimoh of Yagba East Constituency, in his contributions, noted that the Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Planning was able to write to Sterling Bank, giving them an ultimatum to reply in less than 24hours, so as to clear the name of the Governor and the State Government.
He added that the bank replied swiftly and indeed, put to false the allegations from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).