A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has frozen a Kogi State salary bailout account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc over a ₦20 billion loan obtained from the bank.
Justice Tijjani Ringim granted the order to freeze the account pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC had approached the court for the order in an ex-parte application brought pursuant to section 44 (2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act.
Counsel to the EFCC, Abass Muhammed, told the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the ‘res’ and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.
In his submission, Muhammed informed the court that the ₦20 billion loan meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the State Government was kept in an interest-yielding account with Sterling bank.
He added that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant, Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same in a fixed deposit account.
He concluded by saying that Sterling Bank Plc is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.
In his ruling granting the application, Justice Ringim directed the EFCC to publish the court order in a national newspaper. He also asked the commission to make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.
The judge then adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of investigation.