Documents from the Central Bank of Nigeria have exposed how the Kogi State Government led by Governor Yahaya Bello returned N20 billion meant for workers’ salaries earlier diverted to a secret bank account.
The CBN confirmed the receipt of the money in correspondence to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, and signed by the Director, Development Finance Department.
“We refer to your letter dated November 5, 2021, and wish to confirm the details of the receipt of the amount as stated below:
“Bank: Sterling Bank Plc
Amount: N19, 333 333,333.36
Date of Receipt: 04 November 2021
Please accept the assurances of our greatest regards,” the CBN said in the document signed by the Director, Development Finance Department.
One of the documents noted that the diverted fund was returned to the CBN’s coffers by the Bello government from a Sterling Bank account on November 04, 2021.
Another document read: /BNF/ RETURN OF DISB OF FUNDS TO STERLING BANK IFO KOGI STATE UNDER THE SALARY BAILOUT FACILITY.”
The action followed a Court Order which ordered that the money should be refunded to the apex bank by Sterling Bank, the financial institution where the state government had secretly stashed the money.
The court order had read, “It is hereby ordered as follows; that the Account upon which this Suit was instituted was frozen by an order of this honourable court. That the management of the Sterling bank Plc, whose account no, 0073572696 with the name Kogi State Salary Bail Out Account is domiciled has clarified the questions resulting to the commencement of this suit.
“That the management of Sterling Bank has since acknowledged the existence of the said account in their book but claimed same was a mirror account. That it is expedient for the suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen to enable the transfer and return of the sum to the coffers of the CBN where the said bailout fund was disbursed.”
SaharaReporters had in various reports stated that the controversial N20 billion meant for workers’ salaries in the state was stashed away in a commercial bank account operated by the state government led by Bello.
On Thursday, EFCC arraigned Ali Bello, a nephew of the governor before an Abuja Federal High Court over an alleged N10 billion fraud.
He and one Dauda Sulaiman alongside one Abdulsalami Hudu, Cashier of Kogi State House Administration (now at large) were accused of fraudulently withdrawing the sum of N10.2 billion from the Kogi State treasury.
They allegedly delivered the money to a Bureau de Change operator, Rabiu Tafada, in Abuja, to change to foreign currency.
One of the charges reads: “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalami Hudu (Now at large) between January and December 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court procured Rabiu Usman Tafada to take possession of the total sum of N5,865,756,800 (Five Billion, Eight Hundred and Sixty Five Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty-Six Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: criminal misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (c), 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
Another count reads: “That you, Ali Bello, Dauda Suleiman and Abdulsalami Hudu (Now at large) between January and December 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court aided Rabiu Usman Tafada to retain the total sum of N2,509,650,000.00 (Two Billion Five Hundred and Nine Million, Six Hundred and Fifty Thousand), which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: Criminal Misappropriation from the treasury of Kogi State Government and you thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 18 (a) 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”