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Regional News of Wednesday, 24 November 2021


Kogi N20 billion bailout scandal: Workers fate nailed as funds return to CBN

Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello

Last week Friday concerned Nigerians and followers of the controversial N20 billion Kogi workers’ bailout fund were told that the fund has been returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Many have spoken on the implication of returning money that would have alleviated the plight of workers in Kogi State.

Majority have tagged the government narrative a ‘cock and bull’ story spanning the period of seven months.

The mystery behind the Kogi State workers’ N20 billion has continued to shock analysts given the circumstances under which such a humongous amount of money was hidden in a Sterling bank account amid state workers’ misery, poverty and anguish.

Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), one of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies blew the lid open that the sum of N20 billion workers’ bailout fund, released to the Kogi State government by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was kept in an interest yielding account number 0073772696 domiciled in a Sterling Bank.

The revelation led to denials and media theatrics and claims of the non-existence of such funds by those involved.

The EFCC in a 13-paragraph affidavit earlier deposed to by a member of the team of investigators had through relevant provisions in the Act that establishes it approached Justice Tijani Garba Ringim to freeze the account since the funds were not used for the purpose they were disbursed.

Now, after seven months of legal battle, the EFCC has secured a return of N19.33 billion Kogi State Salary bailout funds.

The development was confirmed by the Spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Executive Director of a popular Kogi based non-governmental organization, Initiative for Grassroot Advancement (INGRA), Comrade Hamza Aliyu said the kind of government in place in Kogi State since 2016 cannot be trusted.

He said the state workers’ audit which was carried out between 2016 and 2017 was targeted at sacking workers who would have benefitted from the bailout funds of N50.8 billion approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria for State and Local government employees during the previous administration of Idris Wada before Yahaya Bello inherited the funds.

Aliyu maintained that three institutions cannot be wrong even as the Kogi State government has continued to deny the existence of such funds domiciled in Sterling Bank.

Meanwhile, a letter dated November 9, by the Central Bank of Nigeria which was addressed to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, confirmed that the sum of N19,333,333,333.36 has been returned to its vault by Sterling Bank PLC as proceeds in the name of Kogi State Workers’ Salary account number, 0073772696.

The CBN’s confirmation letter was in response to EFCC’s letter of inquiry dated November 5, 2021, Ref. No. CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/REC-STE/VOL.4/047 asking the anti-graft agency to furnish it with details of the funds in compliance with the October 15,.2021 order of a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos.