Kogi State government has described as “mischievous, false and politically motivated” a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that it returned N19.3 billion bailout funds allegedly “hidden” by the state to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The government gave EFCC a 48-hour ultimatum to retract the statement posted on its Facebook account on November 19 or be prepared for court action.
Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, who issued the ultimatum in Lagos, on Sunday, assured Kogi indigenes, Nigerians, investors and development partners that the funds, which EFCC claimed it returned to the CBN, did not belong to Kogi State.
He said the whole saga was “a hatchet job conceived by politicians” and implemented by the EFCC to tarnish the rising political image of Governor Yahaya Bello, bring him to disrepute, and lower him in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society by portraying him as a corrupt governor/person.
He said these politicians had tried other anti-graft agencies without luck, but had, unfortunately, resorted to using a willing EFCC to discredit the Kogi government through manipulated claims.
Fanwo said: “The EFCC cares not how this fake news will affect the fortunes of the state, shake investor confidence and the possibility of setting the people of Kogi State against the government of Kogi State, once it is able to satisfy the desires of its paymasters and political allies.
“Let it be known that the Kogi State government refutes every bit of these false allegations being peddled by the EFCC.
The Kogi State government had disbursed its bailout loans for the purpose of which it was granted as of October 2019.“There is, therefore, no ‘hidden bailout funds/loan’ belonging to Kogi State that is capable of being returned to the CBN or frozen by an order of court.
”The EFCC knows this. The fear of exposure of its lies in court and the attendant sanctions informed its decision to hurriedly withdraw the sham suit it filed in court.
”He added: “Consequently, the Kogi State government demands a retraction of this most malicious press release, and of all allegations of crimes levelled against the Kogi State government and its governor.
“We further demand an apology published within 48 hours, from today, in one national daily and on all EFCC official and social media platforms, addressed to His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State and the entire government and people of Kogi State.”