The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday discontinued its suit seeking the forfeiture of the N20 billion bailout fund to the Kogi State government by Sterling Bank Plc.
The anti-graft agency claimed it discontinued the case after some questions resulting in the commencement of the suit had been clarified and that Sterling Bank Plc, where the account is domiciled, had indicated its intention to return the sum of N19.3bn to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The EFCC had alleged that the money was meant for the payment of Kogi State workers but was alleged to have been instead kept in an interest yielding account with Sterling Bank.
The counsel to EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), who filed the motion for discontinuance, listed six grounds upon which Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke dismissed the suit.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that Justice Tijjani Ringim had on August 31, granted an ex-parte application brought by the EFCC for an interim forfeiture of the N19.3bn said to be warehoused in state’s Sterling Bank account number 0073572696.
Justice Ringim had held that the order was pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the EFCC.
When the matter first came up on September 28, 2021 before Justice Aneke, he adjourned till yesterday to hear all applications filed by all parties in the matter.
When the case was called yesterday, Pinheiro presented the EFCC’s grounds for discontinuance as contained in an October 13, 2021 application.
The application titled ‘Notice of discontinuance’ stated that ‘the Applicant, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission has resolved to discontinue this matter in SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1086/2021 pending before this Honourable Court against the Respondent’s Account herein.”
In a bench ruling, Justice Aneke held, “I have listened to the submission of the learned Silk for the application, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) vis-a-vis perused the motion to withdraw. My humble opinion is that application is meritorious and ought to be granted.
“Accordingly, the application is granted as prayed,” he held.
Counsel to the Kogi state Government Professor Sam Erugo (SAN) commended the EFCC for its “professional approach”.
Justice Aneke, however, refused his application that the interim forfeiture order earlier granted should be vacated for clarity.