Kogi vs. EFCC, Other Top Stories of 2021

As the year 2021 wraps up, we have taken a stock of the reports which www.ebirareporters.com brought to the teeming followers of the platform, and the case between the Economic Financial and Crimes Commission, EFCC; long-standing fight against insecurity; payment of teachers and pensioners; and other events topped our reports of Kogi state.

The EFCC saga with the Kogi State Government started in August when Justice Tijani Garba of a Federal High Court in Lagos froze a Kogi Salary bailout account domiciled with Sterling Bank, pending the conclusion of an investigation by EFCC.

EFCC said the frozen fund; N20bn which was meant to augment salary payment was moved from the loan account July 25th, 2019 to a fixed deposit account number 0073572696, done under the instruction of the government.

The Kogi state government in a press conference organized in Lokoja on September 2nd, denied having a salary bailout loan in any account, accusing the EFCC of doing a bad job. According to the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, the government fully utilized the monies for the payment of salaries as of July 23rd, 2019.

Then came Kogi State House of Assembly in the picture, threatening fire and brimstone, accusing the EFCC of plotting against Governor Yahaya Bello to tarnish his image and discredit him. The lawmakers on September 14th threatened to sue the EFCC if the agency did not tender a public apology.

September 19th, the Senators representing Central, West and East senatorial districts of the state, Yakubu Oseni, Smart Adeyemi and Jibrin Isah Echocho met with EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa on what they described as a fact-finding mission, claiming that Governor Bello could not be linked to fraud. Bawa told them that the investigation was not a personal matter, as similar exercise was being carried out in other states.

October 15th, EFCC withdrew its suit seeking the forfeiture of the contended fund after Sterling Bank showed intention to return the sum of N19.3bn to the Central Bank of Nigeria.  Sharing the update on its official page, the commission said the Management of Sterling Bank acknowledged the existence of the account which it claimed was a mirror account.

Two days later, the Kogi government dared the EFCC to publish the report of its investigation and not use withdrawal statement to hide facts and save face. In follow up response, the government gave EFCC 48 hours to publish an apology or face legal suit. The agency did not utter a word, till the day that it published that CBN has acknowledged the receipt of the fund from Sterling Bank.

Thus, the state Commissioner for Information, Asiru Idris visited the CBN to tender documents absolving the state government of the allegations, urging the apex bank to investigate the matter as EFCC may have acted on false information.

The Kogi Assembly would later invite the Managing Director of Sterling Bank to appear before several plenary. Their invitations hit rocks, even with threats of issuing a warrant of arrest on the bank’s MD.

December 12th, the government finally went to court seek redress on the matter. In the suit before Justice J. Majebi, the government demanded N35 billion as damages against EFCC. The government also got the court to issue an interim injuction restraining EFCC from doing anything investigating the account pending hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injuction.

The Kogi State High Court adjourned the case till January 27,2022 to hear the application of the EFCC challenging the interim injunction which the court had granted the government.

Thus, the battle between the EFCC and the state government has dragged into the year 2022, and it does not look like it would end soon, especially as Sahara Reporters recently alleged that Governor Yahaya Bello is the Governor whom the EFCC Chairman had partly mentioned to have withdrawn over N60bn.

Meanwhile, the Kogi state government has made significant progress in its fight against insecurity, with hunters and vigilantes taking the wins, while pockets of kidnapping, armed robbery and killings still held sway in some parts of the state.

Hunters made several arrests of kidnappers in Okene, Okehi, Koto-Karfe, Dekina and other parts of the state. These criminals were later paraded by the state police command.

However, towards the end of the year, banks were raided, a Kogi commissioner was shot, and the mother of the Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello was abducted and yet to be freed as at the time of filing this report.

On salary payment, teachers and pensioners in the state have remained the worst hit in the records of the administration. While the teachers said they now look up to God for survival, the government said they were up to date with payments. The State Chapter of the National Union of Teachers stated that some of the teachers earn as low as N6000 because of the percentage salary they were seldom paid. One of the teachers had also committed suicide by jumping into the community well.

Okene Local Government Chairman, Abdulrazaq Muhammad was suspended by the state assembly on allegations of intimidation, pending the outcome of investigation into the matter. Thus, the vice chairperson was promoted to the acting position, and a Chief of Staff, Zubair Amoka was appointed to fill the void in the local government. One week after his appointment, Amoka went about hunting down youths with dreadlocks, tinted hairs. The matter which escalated into a heated polity, led to the arrest of popular musician, fondly called Yunique Oziori.

On the great side, the reports were that;

A new Kogi Cement and plant in the offing, and to gulp $600m

One year after, a new Attah Igala was appointed and coronated

FG to Rehabilitate Ajaokuta Airstrip, seven others in 2022

Confluence University of Science and Technology matriculated 245 students in her first matriculation event, and Governor Bello rewarded best graduating student in Idah with automatic job.

Sheikh Gumi led medical team to Kogi forest to treat sick Fulani herdsmen.

Governor Yahaya Bello’s presidential ambition still in the pipeline as he said Nigerians are calling on him because of his performance in Kogi state.

 

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