The Kogi Government has dared the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to make public, report of its investigations on the purported N20 billion bailout fund fraud.
The EFCC in August, alleged that the N19.3 billion Kogi bailout fund domiciled in Sterling Bank, had been partly misappropriated and the state account frozen on orders of a Lagos High Court.
The News Agency of Njgeria (NAN) recalls that the EFCC on Friday, withdrew its suit, seeking forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout fund.
However, Kogi government had kicked against the withdrawal by the EFCC, charging the anti-graft body to make its findings on the fund public.
In a statement, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the state government said the EFCC despite the withdrawal, should be able to provide facts of its investigations.
He also urged Nigerians to ask the EFCC in whose custody it found a part of the bailout fund said to have been dissipated.
Fanwo insisted that the alleged sum of N19.3 billion which Sterling Bank had undertaken to the EFCC to transfer to the Central Bank of Nigeria, does not belong to the Kogi government, and that the state did not enter into any agreement, either with Sterling Bank or the EFCC, to return any bailout fund to the CBN as being portrayed.
“It is our belief that the withdrawal of the suit by the EFCC without informing the Court of the facts, is a deliberate and face-saving effort by the commission, all in a bid to ‘nail’ at all cost, the Kogi government and tarnish its image,” Fanwo said.
He said the EFCC violated an earlier order of the court, as it failed to report its findings to the court, rather it unceremoniously withdrew the suit, without facts of its investigation to the court and the public.
According to him, residents of Kogi and indeed Nigerians at large, should rather ask the EFCC to publish on its official platforms, the report of its investigation as to the ownership of the said sum of N19,333,333,333.36, and the whereabouts of the sum of N666,666,666.64, which they alleged had been dissipated.
The commissioner further said: “Nigerians should further ask the EFCC whether a commercial bank can simply undertake to transfer a customer’s money from the customers’ account without the order of any court mandating such transfer or a forfeiture?
“Nigerians also deserve to know what becomes of the criminal allegation that the EFCC made, when it informed the Federal High Court that the sum of N666,666,666.64 out of the N20 billion bailout loan had been dissipated and that same was being traced.
”Nigerians will want to know if the EFCC has found the money, if so, in whose custody was it found? Have charges been preferred against the custodian of the said funds.
”Or has the EFCC also abandoned that chase? Nigerians deserve to know the truth.
“We have as of October 2019, fully disbursed our bailout funds and are already religiously repaying the loan to Sterling Bank Plc,” he clarified.
The government spokesman said that concealing these inalienable facts of the matter would be misleading and unethical.
“Finally, while we reserve all our legal rights against the EFCC, we reiterate our demand for an unreserved apology from the EFCC as contained in our letter to the Chairman of the EFCC on Sept. 6.
“We hope the EFCC will honour the said demand to regain the trust of Nigerians,” Fanwo said.
He disclosed that the Kogi government had, as revealed in freshly published documents, sought further clarifications from Sterling Bank to drive home its innocence in the matter.
The commissioner said: “Buoyed by the strength of our innocence, the Kogi government on Oct. 4, wrote to Sterling Bank, seeking further clarifications on the contentious account. The Bank did not only reinforce their earlier stance that the account is a Mirror Account; it also made it unequivocally clear that the Kogi government has nothing to do with the opening or operation of the account.
“All of these facts are in their reply received by the Kogi government on Oct. 5.
‘”The state government again urges the commission to tender public apology to it and refrain from measures that can further damage the image of the nation,” Fanwo said. (NAN)
Update: 2024 Appropriation Bill Passes Second Reading At House Of Reps
The House of Representatives has passed the N27.5 trillion 2024 budget for a second reading.
The House leader, Julius Ihonvbere, on Thursday, November 30, while leading the debate on the general principles of the budget, commended President Bola Tinubu.
Ihonvbere noted that national security and education which got significant allocations will be enhanced if implemented.
He said, “Nigeria will be more secure with the allocation to defence and security. As a teacher, I am impressed by the emphasis on basic education. I am sure that education will be better off this time.”
Tinubu Presents His First Budget As President On Wednesday
President Bola Tinubu will present the 2024 budget to the National Assembly on Wednesday.
This is according to a memo dated November 27, 2023, signed by the federal legislature’s Secretary of Human Resources and Staff Development, Shuaibu Maina Birma, on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly.
“I am directed to inform you that the 2024 Budget would be presented by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday, 29th November, 2023,” it read.
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council has approved a 2024 budget of N27.5 trillion.
This followed the review of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework earlier passed by the National Assembly which benchmarked the exchange rate at N700 to $1 and crude oil price at $73.96 cent per barrel.
Briefing State House Correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, said it revised the MTEF and the Fiscal Policy to use an exchange rate of N750 to $1 and also a benchmark crude oil reference price of $77.96 per barrel.
According to Bagudu, the FEC also approved an Appropriation Bill for 2024 with an aggregate expenditure of N27.5 trillion, an increase of over N1.5 trillion from the previously estimated.
He also noted that using the old reference prices, the forecast revenue is now N18.2 trillion which is higher than the 2023 revenue, including that provided in the two supplementary budgets, in which the deficit is lower than that of 2023.
Senate Seeks Nigeria’s Inclusion In $147billion Global Bitumen Market
…passes Bitmen Development Commission Bill for second reading
The Senate Thursday made legislative move of including Nigeria in the $147billion global bitumen market with passage for second reading , a bill seeking for establishment of Bitumen Development Commission .
Nigeria as stated in the bill sponsored by Senator Jimoh Ibrahim ( APC Ondo South) , has quantum of 5.9trillion barrels ( 938billion m³) of global in – place Bitumen and heavy oil resources , second to Venezuela .
He specifically informed the Senate that more than 80% of the resources are found in Canada , United States of America , Venezuela and Nigeria .
But lamented that while other countries blessed with the Natural resources are exploiting it through required legislations or legal frameworks , Nigeria’ has no legal framework for such exploration with attendant untapped opportunities and huge market loss .
Therefore according to him, ” the objectives of the Bill includes: the need to develop a legal framework for the regulation of the Bitumen development in Nigeria; to prevent unconventional sources from taking advantage of research-enhanced applications over other competitors; and to lead innovation and resource-based strategy in the development of bitumen in Nigeria.
“The Bill will also ensure effective utilisation of over 38 billion reserve of bitumen in Nigeria; and to promote economic diversification policy of the Federal Government”.
He added that the Bill among other reasons, seeks to restrict the activities of the commission to its regulatory and cordinating functioons , specifically as it relates to the Develooment of Bitumen in Nigeria .
Ondo State alone according to him , has the highest deposit in Africa with an estimated value of $42billion which are aside from depisits in Ogun State , Edo , Lagos and Akwa- Ibom States .
” The proposed Bitumen Development Commission when established , would fastrack the development of Bitumen in Nigeria , make her a key player in the $147billion global market and create instant 12, 000 jobs for Nigerians .
” It would also help Government at various levels to put in place asphalted roads in various communities .
” Out of the 200, 000 kilometres of roads in Nigeria , only 20, 000 are asphalted even with imported Bitumen which is not good and being addressed with the proposed commission” he said .
Many of the Senators who contributed to debate on the bill , concurred with Jimoh Ibrahim’s submissions , making the Senate as put to voice votes by its President , Godswill Akpabio , passed it for second reading .
Akpabio who commended Senator Jimoh Ibrahim for sponsorship of the development – driven bill, mandated the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals to make further legislative inputs on it and report back in a month’s time .
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