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Mr Kingsley Fanwo, Kogi State Commissioner of Information debunked the allegation while a media briefing on Thursday in Abuja, stating that the State government judiciously used the funds for its intended purpose.

Fanwo said that the State will seek appropriate legal actions to redress the allegations which have tarnished the reputation of the State and Governor Yahaya Bello.

“The Kogi State Government vehemently denies having the sum of N19,333,333,333.36 or any other sum in a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank Plc as alleged.

“Let me stress as follows: that as of the 31st day of August 2021 when the Court Order to preserve the phantom sum of N19,333,333,333.36 was allegedly made.

“The Kogi State Salary Account No. 0073499012 where the sum of N19,999,000,000 was transferred to since 2019 for the payment of salaries had a credit balance of N44,816,195.24.

“That the allegation that the Kogi State Government authorized the opening of a fixed deposit account wherein it deposited the said Bailout loan of 20billion for the purpose of generating interest for itself is false.

“The Kogi State Government gave no mandate or instruction to Sterling Bank Plc to open a fixed deposit account on its behalf as it could barely meet the salary obligations for which the funds were received at the material time.

“That Sterling Bank Plc by its letter of 1st September 2021 confirmed in writing that the ‘the Kogi State Government does not currently operate or maintain a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank’. Here is a copy of that letter.

“The letter proceeded to confirm that all the balances in all the accounts operated by Kogi State Government were approximately N46 Million Naira.

“Finally, the letter confirmed that account number 0073572696 cited in the alleged order of the Court is ‘an internal (mirror) account operated by the Bank for the purposes of managing the Kogi State Bailout Facility’.

“Having laid the facts bare before you gentlemen of the press, we are still shocked as to how the EFCC came about the patently false information upon which they have fraudulently or by misrepresentation of facts.

“Secured the purported order freezing a non-existent account or a ‘mirror account’ created for administrative purposes by the Bank in respect of funds which have since October 2019 been fully disbursed and utilized for the purpose for which it was borrowed.

“We want to put it on record at this point that at no time during this entire concatenation of unfortunate events did the EFCC invite or question, much less seek clarification, from this Government or any of her officials in relation to such weighty matters.

“Also, none of the media houses or platforms which initially broke the news so much as sought comment from us.

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“No doubt our rights to a fair hearing and the nation’s right to fair and accurate reportage did not matter in the circumstances of this shabbily designed but otherwise clinically executed hatchet job”, Fanwo said.

Fanwo said that under Gov. Yahaya Bello’s administration, Kogi is the only state ever to score 100% in the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability programme of Nigerian states.

He added that the State also recently received commendations from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for being one of the very few states to have adopted the IPSAS Accrual Basis Accounting.

This he added is a way to enhance transparency and accountability in financial reporting in the public sector.

Fanwo said that Gov. Bello and his New Direction Administration in Kogi assures its citizens, partners, investors and the general public of its commitment to transparency, probity and accountability in office will remain unrivalled in the country.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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