Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has again dismissed the allegation of misappropriation of salary account levelled against the state government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A Federal High Court in Lagos had frozen the state government’s salary bailout account domiciled in a commercial bank over an alleged N20 billion loan obtained from it.
The account was frozen by the court, following an ex parte application brought by the EFCC, pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution.
Abass Muhammed, counsel to the EFCC, told the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the ‘res’ (the fund in question) and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.
While fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, the governor, however, accused the EFCC of misinterpreting facts or taking a joke too far.
According to him, Kogi is the only state that has published on its website how the bailout fund was utilised.
”No Kogi state government’s salary account is frozen. None whatsoever. None of our accounts is frozen or embargo placed on any of our accounts by EFCC at all.
”I think it’s just a misrepresentation of facts or is a joke taken too far. My Information Commissioner and all those that are concerned with that lies peddled by the EFCC, I think they have responded appropriately.
”And I will urge each and every Nigerian to please go to Kogi State website, all the facts are there.
”The Bank has denied that we have such an account. And besides that, the bailout fund that we obtained, we appropriated in line with the agreement and understanding between Kogi state government and the workers.
”And all of these were done and finished in the year 2019. So first, there’s no N20 billion account, or N19 billion, no fixed deposit account. So, I don’t know where the lie is coming from.
“I think in the days ahead, you will hear exactly how the matter shall be resolved. That’s why I said that is a joke taken too far.
”I want to believe that either the officials of the EFCC may have misled the commission.
”Remember that we will not just allow this to lie low because Mr President prides on fighting corruption and EFCC is one of the agencies that is being used to fight corruption.”
The governor maintained that the EFCC should not be seen to be going on a voyage of no discovery in order for the reputation of the commission and integrity of the government to remain intact.
He opined that he came into office with his integrity high, and he would be leaving ”the office of Governor with a higher integrity.
”And all of my name that are ringing bell everywhere across the world today, you will know that actually I earned these beautiful names, not because of stealing.
“I will never touch one kobo of Kogi state and I will never allow any of my officials to do so.
“Today, Kogi state is among the first that has published all of our accounts online.
”All of these spendings have been put out there for the whole world to see from bank account, to statements of account, to payroll, all of the documents are all out there. That is transparency.
”I challenge Nigerians to challenge all of those governors to publish the same particular bailout fund utilisation and then you’ll be able to judge me whichever way.”
Bello said he was in the Villa to extend to President Muhammadu Buhari the appreciation of indigenes of the state for making Kogi an oil producing state.
He said: “I came to see our father, Mr President, to appreciate him on behalf of the good people of Kogi state that today, Kogi is the first Nigerian northern state to be referred to as oil producing state.
”We came to appreciate Mr President, for that magnanimity, and also to congratulate the people of Kogi state, and Nigerians, generally.
“We equally brought a request to the effect that the Ajaokuta steel company is still moribund and reminded him of his efforts in ensuring that he revives Ajaokuta steel complex.
”We submitted a petition to the effect that he should in the life of his administration, be able to complete that Ajaokuta complex.
“And Mr President received all of these and more with pleasure and he promised that something is going to be done to ensure that Ajaokuta is revived and running before the end of this administration.”