Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) misinterpreted facts of the N20 billion loan the state took from a new generation bank.
After meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, Bello declared that he entered the Government House with integrity and would leave with it intact, notwithstanding the allegations by EFCC.
The governor pointedly said the anti-graft agency took the joke too far, insisting that Kogi was the only state that published on its website how the bailout fund was utilised.
A Federal High Court in Lagos had ordered the freezing of Kogi government’s salary bailout account domiciled in a commercial bank over an alleged N20 billion loan the state took from it.
His words: “No Kogi government’s salary account is frozen. None of our accounts is frozen or embargo placed on any of our accounts by EFCC at all. I think it’s just a misrepresentation of facts or a joke taken too far.
“My Commissioner for Information and all those concerned, I think, have responded appropriately to the lies peddled by the EFCC. I urge every Nigerian to go to Kogi State website; all the facts are there. The bank has denied that we have such an account. Besides, the bailout fund that we obtained, we appropriated in line with the agreement and understanding between Kogi and the workers. All of these were done in 2019. So, there is no N20 billion account, or N19 billion, no fixed deposit account. So I don’t know where the lie is coming from.”
On whether he believed that the EFCC saga was not unconnected with his 2023 Presidential ambition, Bello responded: “The President’s fight against corruption has nothing to do with politics. So, whoever wants to probably attack my towering name and integrity because of 2023 is making a mistake. Fighting corruption should ordinarily have nothing to do with political affiliation or interest. So I would not say that I am being targeted because of 2023. Targeting me because of 2023 is a big mistake; you will not be able to get me.”
Asked his impression of the Abdulrasheed Bawa-led EFCC, Bello said: “I am the very first, not among the first, to congratulate Bawa for his appointment as EFCC Chairman. I appreciated Mr. President for identifying a very young, vibrant and courageous man as chairman of EFCC. I would not say I am disappointed in him, because so far, there is an allegation, and we have responded. We are waiting for their reaction to our response so far.
“But I believe that those who may have orchestrated that phantom lie should be brought to justice as soon as possible; so that the good name that EFCC has earned will continue to tower high. So, I urge Bawa to continue to do the very wonderful job he has started. He should not allow anybody to use him, for whatever reason, and I don’t think he will allow anybody to use him for political vendetta. As a young man, he has a very long way to go, just like myself, and we should be able to guide ourselves very well in serving this great country.”