The Kogi State government has dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a Federal High Court in Abuja, demanding N35 billion damages over what it called “unsubstantiated allegations that it fixed N19.3 billion bailout funds received from the Federal Government”, in a bank account.
Listed as claimants in the lawsuit are the Accountant-General of the state, Momoh Jibrin and Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Mukadam Asiru, while the EFCC, Sterling Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were listed as defendants in the case filed before Justice J. J. Majebi of the Kogi State High Court.
The EFCC had claimed it discovered N19.3 billion belonging to the Kogi government in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank.
The funds, according to the anti-graft agency, were discovered in an account with the number 0073572696, with the name Kogi State Salary Bail Out Funds, meant to pay salaries in the state but were allegedly not used for its purpose, though the Kogi government has repeatedly denied the, claiming it did not open the said account.
In a statement issued by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Ayoade Folashade Arike on Monday confirming the lawsuit, the Kogi government said it sued the EFCC for its “false and unfounded” allegations that the funds were recovered from its account.
“The government is demanding the sum of N35 billion only as to damages against the 1st defendant for the defamatory publication, titled, ‘Hidden N19.3bn Kogi salary bailout funds returned to CBN’ made on November 19, 2021, on her Facebook page containing, amongst others, false and unfounded allegations of N19.3 billion being returned from Kogi State bailout account, which portrays fraud and misappropriation of the public fund against the claimant,” the statement said.
The state government also noted that a High Court in the state had granted an interim injunction restraining the EFCC from inviting state officials or further publishing any document regarding the recovered funds.
While asking the court to declare the publication as “misconceived, wrongful, illegal, null and void”, the plaintiff also asked the court to declare that the conduct of the second defendant (Sterling Bank) was wrong, illegal, null and void in opening a fixed deposit account number 0073572696 and naming it Kogi bailout account without an application, request, authority or consent of the government.
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