By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja, has in an experte motion, ordered the freezing of an account owned by the Bauchi State Government in First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
Justice Taiwo Taiwo gave the order after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC, Abubakar Aliyu, moved an ex-parte application, praying that it needed to have the account frozen to preserve the funds being held in it.
Granting the application, the judge held that the anti-graft agency should within 21 days notify the respondents – the Bauchi State Government and the FCMB of the court’s decision.
The account with number: 0998552074 with a balance of about N11,500,000 000 00, is to be frozen pending the conclusion of a ongoing investigation by the EFCC.
The prosecution agency had in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/858/2019, said that it was investigating a money laundering case in which the account featured prominently.
In the motion, it claimed that the immediate past government in the state was involved in money laundering for which it deployed the account.
The commission, in an affidavit in support of the claims signed by its official, Yakubu Sani said,
“it is a fact that between the 24th and 28th day of May 2019 the applicant received an intelligence that the then outgoing government at Bauchi State initiated a process at overdrawing to launder the sum of N19,897,809,334.08 property at Bauchi State Government.
“The bank account subject matter of the intelligence is the Bauchi State Government Operational Account number: 0998552074 domiciled at First City Monument Bunk.
“The actual amount in the sand bank account is N11,500,000 000 00 which was paid to the Bauchi State Government by the Federal Government of Nigeria via the the Central Bank.
“The process of laundering employed by the suspects includes the issuance of mandates and cheques rose to the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) for the payments at non-executed contracts and fictitious claims to individuals and contractors.
“The Bauchi State Accountant General is one at the signatory that clears the said cheques and mandate for said suspicious payments and still remains a signatory to the said account under investigation.
“Based on the intelligence received, attempts were being made to activate the withdrawal of such funds while still under investigation by the current Government of Bauchi State “The investigation has since commenced and the applicant deems it necessary to cause the said bank account and funds to be frozen pending the determination of the investigation therein.
“Freezing the said bank account and funds will greatly assist the applicant to get to the root of the matter and conclude its investigation timeously.
“Deflating the said funds by way at withdrawal will greatly obstruct the applicant from getting to the root of the matter and conclusion of the investigation timeously.
“The applicant needs to obtain the order of this court to cause the freezing of the said bank account and the funds therein.
“This honourable court has the jurisdiction to grant this order and it is in the best interest at justice to grant this application,’’ it claimed.
Meantime, further hearing has been adjourned till September 3, 2019.