October 15 has been fixed by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to hear all applications related to a N20 billion loan, said to belong to the Kogi State government, in the custody of the Sterling Bank Plc.
The decision of the court was given on Tuesday by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke after an application made by counsel to the Kogi State Government, Professor Sam Erugo (SAN).
Erugo told the court that he needed time to study the counter affidavit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the processes.
SWITCH NIGERIA recalls that a vacation judge, Justice Tijjani Ringim on August 31, granted an exparte application for an interim forfeiture of the sum after taking arguments from the EFCC’s counsel.
With the vacation over, the suit was reassigned to Justice Aneke and at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, counsel to Kogi State government told the court that his client had filed processes challenging the interim order granted by Justice Ringim.
He also told the court that the EFCC had filed its counter objections to the processes.
The counsel then asked the court to give him more time to respond to the EFCC’s counter processes.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, admitted to the court that he had been served with the processes and had equally filed his documents to counter the arguments raised.
After listening to both parties, Justice Aneke, adjourned the matter till October 15, for the hearing of all applications.
The EFCC had approached the court on August 31 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 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
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 submissions, Muhammed informed the court that the N20 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 some 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, Justice Tijjani Ringim granted the order to freeze the account pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution by the EFCC.
In 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.