Resumed Hostilities: EFCC Accused of Executing ‘Destroy Kogi’ Agenda as Anti-Graft Agency Arraigns Two

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In what appears to be an unending drama, Kogi state government has debunked an allegation of money laundering levelled against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a swift reaction to a statement by EFCC on Thursday, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, described the anti-graft agencies renewed hostilities as a sustenance of the persecution of Kogi state government by the Abdulrasheed Bawa-led EFCC. 

Fanwo said EFCC, with its present allegations, had shown clearly that it was desperately seeking to save its face after the commission hit a road block in its N20bn Sterling Bank media trial. 

He, however, noted that just as with the Sterling Bank affair when the commission went to the media before proper investigation, the EFCC was again set to embarrass itself and its legacy by again jumping to the media to continue its persecution of the Kogi government.

While insisting that no money belonging to the Kogi State Government was laundered, the Commissioner insisted that Nigerians should ask the EFCC if its “biased” corruption searchlight was only meant for Kogi State.

“The media trial by the EFCC is a calculated and orchestrated plan to embarrass the State Government by going after its Officials and Associates with trumped up charges to satisfy the destructive fangs of their paymasters,” Fanwo noted. 

The government in its reaction said that the inclination of the EFCC was against the acknowledgment of due process and financial accountability given to the Kogi State Government by international organisations. It particularly cited the recent honour accorded the Kogi State Government by the World Bank funded SFTAS project in which Kogi was lifted above peers in financial accountability. 

The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to a press statement on the website of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to the effect that they arraigned some persons who they alleged were linked with laundering monies belonging to the Government of Kogi State. 

“Inasmuch as we would not want to delve into the depth of the matter which is now sub judice, it is pertinent to draw the attention of the general public to the fact that the desperation of the EFCC to crucify Kogi State at all costs may have landed them in another trouble. Unlike the EFCC that has been known for serial contempt of court under the current leadership; we are committed to allow the law to take its due course on the matter and our innocence, again, proven beyond reasonable doubt. 

“It would be recalled that this same EFCC once accused the Kogi State Government of stashing 20 billion naira bailout funds in a fixed deposit account in Sterling Bank. When the legal fireworks were about to ruffle their biased feathers, they quickly backed out and claimed the money had been returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria. Till date, they have not shown Nigerians any proof of the return even when Sterling Bank Plc has under oath denied the return of any monies belonging to the Kogi State Government. It is trite that what does not exist cannot be taken or returned. 

“The media trial by the EFCC is a calculated and orchestrated plan to embarrass the State Government by going after its Officials and Associates with trumped up charges to satisfy the destructive fangs of their paymasters. 

“Let it be on record that no money belonging to the Kogi State Government was laundered. SFTAS is a World Bank accountability project to ensure the Government stays accountable to the people. For many years, Kogi has won Awards as one of the most transparent State Governments in Nigeria. A responsible anti-graft agency would have made Kogi an example of transparency and excellence. However, with its endless wild goose chase, Nigerians would even wonder if EFCC’s obviously biased corruption binoculars are only designed for Kogi State. 

“It is not unexpected that the EFCC would feel disappointed that the monies they claimed had been stolen from the coffers of the state have been used to build Nigeria’s best hospitals, good roads, best schools that are about to be commissioned. We cannot help their descent into political pawn. We will continue to make the resources of our state work for our people. 

“Nigerians know that the recent Gestapo-like operation against the State was occasioned by EFCC’s failure to sell the “fixed” Bailout funds debacle to the people. They became desperate to save their face from the disgrace bestowed on them by their ‘Destroy Kogi’ Agenda. 

“We urge our people not to take the laws into their hands as we are prepared in fact and in conscience for the legal battle ahead.”

The EFCC, in a statement published on the commission’s website on Thursday, announced the arraignment of Governor Yahaya Bello’s nephew for N10 Billion fraud.

According to the publication, Justice James Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, remanded Aliyu Bello, a nephew to Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello and one Dauda Sulaiman in prison pending the fulfilment of their bail conditions.

“They were remanded upon arraignment alongside one Abdulsalami Hudu, Cashier of Kogi State House Administration (now at large) on a 10-count charge of misappropriation and money laundering

“Bello and Sulaiman are accused of fraudulently withdrawing a sum of N10, 270,556,800 (Ten Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy Million, Five Hundred and Fifty-six Thousand Eight Hundred Naira), from the Kogi State treasury, which they delivered to a Bureau de Change operator, Rabiu Tafada in Abuja to keep or change to foreign currencies for personal gains.

“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 Tafida 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 Abdulsalam 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”.

They however pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC.

In view of their pleas, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo SAN, asked the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial.

Counsel to the second and third defendants, Abdulwahab Mohammed SAN, informed the court of his application for the bail of the defendants.

Justice Omotosho admitted the defendants to bail in the sum One Billion Naira each and two sureties who are to provide a bond of N2billion each and have a landed property valued at N500 million. The title of the properties shall be registered with the chief registrar of the Court.

Each of the sureties and the defendants shall submit their bank statements and international passports to the chief registrar of the Court.

The sureties must also produce an affidavit of means and evidence of tax clearance for at least 3 years.

The judge thereafter sent the defendants to Kuje Correctional centre, Abuja pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions and adjourned the matter till February 6, 2023 for hearing.


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