The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has confirmed the return of N19.33 billion Kogi state salary bailout funds, recovered by the Commission, to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja, on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the money was meant for the payment of Kogi state workers, but was allegedly domiciled in an interest-yielding account with Sterling Bank plc.
The Kogi state government, through the Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Idris Asiru, denied knowledge of the fixed deposit account with the said bank.
NAN also reports that the EFCC has withdrawn its suit seeking the forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout funds granted to the Kogi state government by Sterling Bank.
Uwujaren said the return of the money to the CBN would effectively put to rest the campaign of misinformation and unconscionable denials by the Kogi state government that no funds were recovered from its bailout account.
He added that the CBN in a letter referenced, DFD/DIR/CON/EXT/01/099 and dated Nov. 9, 2021, confirmed to the EFCC Chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, that it had received the money.
The letter reads in part: “We refer to your letter dated Nov. 5, 2021 with Ref. No: CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/REC-STE/VOL.4/047 on the above subject 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 Nov., 2021.
“The return of the money to the apex bank is in compliance with the Oct. 15, 2021 order of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
“The court directed the unfreezing of the Kogi state salary bail-out account to enable Sterling Bank to remit the balance in the account to the CBN.
“Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke gave the order pursuant to an application filed by the EFCC, ” he said.
Uwujaren added that the commission had told the court that the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where the account was domiciled, had acknowledged the existence of the said account with the staggering sum in its books.
“The Commission further brought to the attention of the court that the said amount is still standing in the credit of the account frozen.
“The management of Sterling Bank PIc, has, pursuant to a letter dated Sept. 15, 2021, signed by its Managing Director, indicated its intention to return the total amount back to CBN, ” he said.
He noted that the EFCC prayed the court that it “is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account unfrozen”.
This was to enable the management of Sterling Bank effect the transfer/ return of the sum of N19, 333, 333, 333.36 back to the coffers of the CBN, from where the said bailout funds were disbursed.
The transfer, according to Uwujaren, has put a stop to any further controversy regarding the source and ownership of the funds and most importantly, aborted the funds dissipation.
Justice Tijani Garba Ringim, a vacation Judge, had on Aug. 31, 2021, ordered the freezing of the account, following an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC.
The EFCC, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte application, had stated that it received a credible and direct intelligence, which led to the tracing of the funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank, with the name of Kogi State Salary Bailout Account.
After listening to the EFCC’s application, Justice Ringim on Aug. 31, 2021, ordered the freezing of the account and directed the publication of the order in a national newspaper by the EFCC.
Presidency: Ndigbo Ready To Kneel For Fulani, Yoruba, Others
Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said the Igbo are ready to kneel to be given a chance in the coming 2023 presidential election.
According to daily Trust, Ezeife, while speaking at the United for Better Nigeria Initiative (UBNI) National Convention, in Abuja on Saturday, said federal character is the recipe of fairness and equity
He said: “I found Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and other groups in this place talking about the need for federal character. If you do it that way, there will be unity; if there is fairness, equity, justice, you will have unity and progress.
“The Igbo man does not kneel down, but this time, we are prepared to kneel down to every part of Nigeria, every group, every ethnic group in Nigeria, we are prepared to even prostrate because we believe in this country.”
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: National inquiry into boy’s death
The killing of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes will be the subject of a national review to protect other children from such evil crimes, the government says.
The six-year-old was tortured and killed by his father and stepmother after social workers found “no safeguarding concerns”.
Emma Tustin was jailed for 29 years for murder and child cruelty and Thomas Hughes got 21 years for manslaughter.
Nadhim Zahawi said: “We will not rest until we have the answers we need.”
The education secretary announced “a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case”.
This “upgrades” the existing local review, launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020, a statement from the Department for Education said.
Meanwhile, the jail terms of Arthur’s killers will be reviewed to “determine whether they were too low”, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Hundreds gathered to release balloons in tribute to Arthur at a vigil near the house where he died in Solihull, West Midlands.
Mr Zahawi has also asked inspectors in social care, health, police and probation to urgently investigate the safeguarding agencies in Solihull to whom Arthur was known.
He said: “Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation. I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.”
Mr Zahawi is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons on Arthur’s case on Monday.
The Department for Education said over the next few days it would work with the national panel and the Solihull partnership to agree a timeline for publication of the national review.
It will also agree the full scope of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection with the agencies involved, it said.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he believed the prison sentences given to Arthur’s killers were too lenient.
He said: “We’ve announced we are going to raise the sentences for child cruelty and in relation to baby Arthur the attorney has already said that she’s minded to submit an application for a review of the sentence.”
Arthur died of a head injury on 16 June 2020. Tustin had shaken him and banged his head on a hard surface after poisoning him with salt, Coventry Crown Court heard.
He was found to have 130 injuries after being routinely beaten, forced to stand for hours on his own, starved and dehydrated.
Arthur’s paternal grandmother had alerted social services by showing them a photograph of bruising on his body.
He was seen by social workers just two months before his death but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
The Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, said reviews into Arthur’s death were “not a quick fix”.
“Arthur raised concerns – he was not a baby, he was six years old – he raised concerns and the system did not hear him. We must listen to the voices of children.” she said.
Arthur died during the first national coronavirus lockdown and Dame Rachel said: “We must not close schools again.”
She said: “I think there’s no doubt that lockdown was such a shock to the whole nation that it weakened the system of support, but actually in Arthur’s case he did have a number of professionals around him, he did have home visits, we have to wait to hear exactly what’s happened there.”
The NSPCC welcomed the review and said “no stone should be left unturned”.
“This must be a watershed moment in which we ask ourselves difficult questions about what we can all do, nationally, locally and in our own communities, to keep children safe,” the charity said.
Lagos4Lagos Defection: Nothing Can Change PDP’s Misfortune In Lagos – APC
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State says the defection of Lagos4Lagos Movement, a splinter group within the party, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cannot change the main opposition’s misfortune in the state.
The APC Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Seye Oladejo, made this remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday while reacting to the defection of some aggrieved APC members to the PDP on Saturday.
“There is nothing that is going to happen that will change the fortune of the PDP. They have always lost, it is in their DNA. So, they will lose again.
“So, they are moving to nothing, we will meet at the polls. I can assure you they would not even win a single ward in the state,” he said.
According to him, the aggrieved members’ movement to the PDP underscores their political naivety “for them to think they can bring any special fortune that is unknown and alien to our state”.
Mr Oladejo said the Lagos4Lagos Movement has just formalised its membership of the opposition party and that the ruling party would not miss the group.
“They have always been in the opposition anyway. We have always believed that they were acting a script. There is a limit to hypocrisy which is not sustainable.
“No one plays opposition within the ruling party and hope to sustain that. So, it is a good thing that they have finally moved on.
“We are happy that in some of their interviews, they promised to resurrect a death party. I believe resurrection is left for Almighty God.
“It is good they are mixing and fraternising with the dead now, which is a good thing for them. For us, we are not going to miss them,” he said.
According to him, everyone knows that the group emerged from nowhere in recent times and they have never contributed anything to APC retinue of victories since the advent of democracy in the state.
On possible reconciliation with the group, Mr Oladejo said no one sent the aggrieved out of the party.
“If they want to come back it is for them to make the move. It is a political party, we do not totally shut the door against any one.
“Hopefully, someday, they will see the light and know that Lagos has always been a progressive state and remains one. They can return.
“So, if they want to come back in the future, why not? Our doors remain permanently open to those who are ready to repent and see the light,” he added.
On APC’s efforts to reconcile other aggrieved groups within the party like Conscience Forum, AAMCO group and the Democrats, Oladejo said that the reconciliation process in the party is open-ended.
According to him, anytime the party has issues, the party has internal mechanisms to reconcile aggrieved members or groups.
He said: “Reconciliation becomes easy when people are ready to play by the rule but if your target really is all about ambition, then your ambition becomes difficult to achieve.
“In our party, you earn the ticket to aspire to whatever office. It is not by arm twisting, blackmailing or causing needless trouble.”
Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, met with the leaders of the aggrieved APC members on Saturday to woo them into the PDP.
The declaration of the group’s defection is scheduled for December 18.
Mr Saraki, chairman of PDP’s National Reconciliation Committee, met with hundreds of members of the Lagos4Lagos Movement, and the group’s leader, Olajide Adediran, at an event organised for the defection.
The Adediran faction of the APC held parallel local government congresses at different locations in the state in September.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the group had alleged impunity, imposition and marginalisation of candidates in the APC for its action.
The National Caretaker Committee of the APC led by Yobe’s Governor Mai Mala Buni, however, dismissed the claims and did not accord the group any recognition.
Speaking on the possibility of having a rethink, spokesman of the group, Kazeem Bakare, told NAN on Sunday in Lagos that the movement took the decision having exhausted all avenues for reconciliation.
“The die is cast actually because the argument has been that we can’t make any change elsewhere.
“We have exhausted all processes of reconciliation within the APC. Even at that, we are law-abiding.
“We have what it takes to win elections and that is why we are taking our leave.
“We believe in a few weeks, unfolding events will tell Lagos residents that we are ready to take over the state for the good of Lagos State,’’ Mr Bakare said.
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