The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday sought the permission of a Lagos High Court to discontinue its suit against the Kogi State Government and to unfreeze the state’s account in Sterling Bank to enable it to return the N20 billion bailout fund to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The EFCC had on August 31, 2021, brought an ex parte application before the Lagos High Court, presided by Justice Tijani Ringim seeking to freeze the state’s interest-yielding account domiciled in Sterling Bank with the name ‘Kogi State Salary Bailout Account’, adding that the money was bailout fund meant for payment of salary.
Counsel to the EFCC, at the resumption of proceedings yesterday, Kemi Pinheiro SAN, presented an application titled, ‘Notice of Discontinuance’, and dated October 13, seeking discontinuance of the matter.
The application stated that “the applicant, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has resolved to discontinue this matter in SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1086/2021 pending before this Honourable Court against the Respondent’s Account herein. “That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 with the name Kogi salary bailout account is domiciled, has since acknowledged the existence of the said account in their book but claimed same was a mirror account,” the application reads.
“That the sum of N19.3 billion is still standing in the credit of the account frozen pursuant to the order of this honourable court.
“That the management of Sterling Bank Plc, where account No 0073572696 is domiciled, has pursuant to a letter dated Sep.21, 2021, signed by its managing director, indicated intention to return the total sum of N19,333,333,333.36 to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“That it is expedient for the instant suit to be discontinued and the account was unfrozen to enable the management of Sterling Bank Plc, effect the transfer/return of the sum to the coffer of the Central Bank of Nigeria where the said bailout funds were disbursed.”
The presiding Judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke granted the EFCC’s application, saying: “I have listened to the submission of the learned silk for the application, Mr Kemi Pinheiro SAN, vis-a-vis perused the motion to withdraw. My humble opinion is that application is meritorious and ought to be granted. Accordingly, the application is granted as prayed.”
Counsel to the Kogi State Government, Sam Erogbo, commended the “professional approach” of the EFCC.