The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said a serving Nigerian governor allegedly withdrew N60billion from the state’s treasury in six tranches under six years in office.
Although the identity of state involved was not disclosed, the agency, however, hinted that it is in the North-central part of the country.
EFCC Chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, agency made the revelations in the latest edition of its in-house magazine “EFCC Alert.”
The agency’s boss granted an interview to TVC, and titled same “Setting the records straight” in a column of the monthly e-magazine by its media section.
“Very soon, Nigerians are going to see some of the things that we are doing. I can tell you for free that the new Department of Intelligence that we have created is working wonders. They have come up with a lot of intelligence.
“In one of them, a governor in a North-Central state within the last six years (one individual) has withdrawn over N60 billion in cash.
“We are looking at all of that, and I assure you that at the end of all of our investigations, Nigerians are going to be briefed of what we are doing behind the scene on cybercrime, politically-exposed persons, as well as engaging government agencies to ensure that we have better processes and procedures on how to do government business.
“We are not setting out to be engaging with people on the pages of newspapers or press conferences. We are working hard trying to see what we can do behind the scenes [to eradicate corruption],” Bawa said.
He said contrary to the popular view that ‘corruption cases’ against former governors had been swept under the carpet, he said the commission was steadily on the cases.
Bawa said: “I can assure you that we are working (on them). We don’t want to talk about matters that are under investigation. Yes, we invited a former governor (Lucky Igbinedion) for interrogation.
“He was with us for two days and he has been released; investigation is ongoing, but we are being careful and cautious, so we won’t be accused of engaging in a media trial.”
Bawa said between 1999 and 2007, more than 50 former and serving governors were under alleged corruption-related investigation.
Five former governors have since been convicted, with higher courts overturning the sentencing of two; namely former Abia governor, Orji Kalu and Bala Ngilari, who briefly ran Adamawa state.
While the commission is seeking a fresh judicial approval to re-prosecute Kalu, two other former governors-Joshua Dariye of Plateau state and Reverend Jolly Nyame of Taraba state are currently serving various jail terms in Kuje Prisons, Abuja.
On pension, the EFCC boss said: “The issue of pension fraud is something that is mind-boggling and we are looking at that. We recently held a sensitisation programme titled, “Eradication of Pension Fraud in Nigeria. So we are working to ensure that we have sanity within the system.”
Kogi drags EFCC to court
Meanwhile, the Kogi state government has dragged the EFCC to court over what it called unsubstantiated allegations that it fixed N19.3 billion bail-out funds received from the federal government.
Consequent upon this, Justice J. J. Majebi of a Kogi State High Court also granted an interim injunction restraining the anti-graft body from issuing further official or unofficial publications over the issue involving Sterling Bank Account No. 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to the state government.
The plaintiffs in the suit are KGSG, Accountant-General of the state, Momoh Jibrin; and Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Mukadam Asiru.
The government is demanding “the sum of N35billion only as 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 public fund against the claimant.”
The plaintiffs further asked the Court to declare that the publication by the EFCC containing, amongst others, false and unfounded allegations of N19.3 billion being returned was defamatory of the character of the Kogi State government.
The state government had earlier threatened to take the EFCC to court if the commission failed to retract and apologise over statements it continually made in the media with the aim of disparaging the state.
Particularly, the government said it could not understand how the EFCC kept attributing an account number to the state even after Sterling Bank had written to explain that there was never a time it gave the bank the mandate to open the said account.
The government said it was also alarmed by what it described as “the falsehood in the activities of the EFCC claiming that N20 billion bailout funds, belonging to Kogi State, was hidden in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank, which surprisingly now has a balance of less than the fixed N20 billion even after allegedly being kept for some years.“
In response to the prayers, the High Court granted: “An interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondents, its allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from doing anything either by way of publication or print or electronic media or issuing any official or unofficial publication in any print or electronic media, including online publication on its website or social media, both locally and internationally, with respect to the issues involving Account No. 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to the 1st Claimant/Applicant domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc or any other bank registered and operating in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.
“An interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondent, its allies, agents, representatives, associates or whoever is acting for them or through them from doing anything either by inviting officials of the 1st Claimant or requesting for any document with respect to the issue involving Account No 0073572696 or any other account purportedly belonging to the 1st Claimant/Applicant domiciled with Sterling Bank Plc or any other bank registered and operating in Nigeria or otherwise relating to or pertaining to the affairs of the 1st Claimant whatsoever or its employees, appointees or associates pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.”
The Motion on Notice shall be heard December 17, 2021, the Court ruled.