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Court freezes Kogi account over N20bn bailout loan

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A federal high court sitting in Lagos has frozen a Kogi state salary bailout account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

Justice Tijjani Ringim granted the order following an ex parte application brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, pending the conclusion of the investigation or possible prosecution.

The application was brought pursuant to section 44 (2) of the Constitution and section 34(1) of the EFCC Act.

Counsel to the EFCC, Abass Muhammed, told the court that the order was necessary so as to preserve the ‘res’ (the fund in question) and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

In his submission, Muhammed informed the court that the N20 billion loan meant to augment salary payment and running cost of the Kogi state government was kept in an interest-yielding fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank.

The EFCC counsel said Sterling Bank Plc is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

In his ruling granting the application, the judge directed the EFCC to publish the court order in a national newspaper.

The judge also asked the commission to make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation, and adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of investigation.

The commission, in a 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, said it received credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities deposited in account No. 0073572696 domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, with the name ‘Kogi State Salary Bailout Account’.

The commission said it discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management of Sterling Bank Plc approved an offer of N20 billion bailout loan facility for the Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent — a member of a team of investigators attached to the Lagos monitoring unit of the EFCC whose name wasn’t given in the affidavit — in the June 19, 2019 fiscal year, the state government, ministry of finance and economic development, office of the honourable commissioner, applied for a credit facility of N20 billion with an interest rate of nine percent for a tenure of 240 months from Sterling Bank Plc.

The deponent stated that prior to the said application for the loan, the state government had also on June 19, 2019, via a letter to the manager of Sterling Bank Plc, Lokoja, applied to open an account in the bank with the name ‘Kogi State Salary Bailout Account’, with Momoh Jubril, accountant-general of the state, and Elijah Evinemi, acting director of treasury, as signatories to the said account.

The fund was said to be to augment salary payment and running cost of the state government.

The EFCC investigating officer stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was secured by the state through a memorandum of acceptance signed by Yahaya Bello, Kogi governor; Asiwaju Asiru Idris, commissioner for finance, and Jibrin, the accountant-general.

“That upon the opening of the said account with No. 0072969301, Sterling bank Plc disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20,000,000,000.00 to the account,” the affidavit reads.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the state government proceeded to open a fixed deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July 2019, Sterling Bank Plc acting on the instruction of the Kogi state government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said Account sought to be frozen received the Sum of Twenty Billion Naira, (N20,000,000,000) on 25th July, 2019.

“That as at 1st day of April, 2021, the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36.”

 

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SERAP sues Buhari over alleged missing N11tn electricity fund

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President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged to court by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) for allegedly failing probe N11tn electricity fund said to missing.

The money, according to SERAP, was meant to provide regular electricity supply for the country since 1999, and it is suspected to have “been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1119/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP sought for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”

This is coming after it was reported that Nigeria’s electricity grid has collapsed at least three times within five months, and 130 times in seven years, plunging many households across the country into darkness.

 

 

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Toyota-Suzuki joint SUV coming in August, Africa listed

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The collaboration between Toyota and Suzuki is set to manifest in concrete terms as Toyota says it will start the production of a new SUV model developed by Suzuki at Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd from August.

The Suzuki-developed SUV will come with mild and strong hybrid variants – made in India for both brands, multiple sources including motorauthority.com report.

The two companies are said to be planning to export the new model to markets outside India including Africa.

Toyota and Suzuki are promoting mutual supply of vehicles globally, which is one of the collaborations in their business partnership.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding for a business alliance in 2017. Since then, the two companies have been bringing together Toyota’s strength in electrification technologies and Suzuki’s strength in technologies for compact vehicles for joint collaboration in production and in the widespread popularization of electrified vehicles.
The powertrains of the new model to be on sale in India will be equipped with mild hybrid developed by Suzuki and strong hybrid developed by Toyota.
By bringing together strengths of both Toyota and Suzuki through the collaboration, the two companies say they will be able to provide a wide variety of vehicle electrification technologies to customers and contribute to the acceleration of electrification and the realization of a carbon-neutral society in India.

While Suzuki leads and understands the India market, Toyota brings hybrid tech to the table.

Maruti Suzuki India Limited and TKM will market the new model in India as Suzuki and Toyota models, respectively.

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Ford to end production of Focus in 2025

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Ford has confirmed that it will stop producing the Focus model in 2025, in a move that threatens the longer-term future of its Saarlouis, Germany plant that only makes that model.

Nigeria may not miss the exit of the Focus as it has not really been as popular as other Ford models such as the Escape, the Edge and Everest.

Ford however said that its plant in Saarlouis would continue to produce the Ford Focus passenger car, while the company is also evaluating options for future site concepts.
In Europe, Ford has emphasised the future role for electrified models – which includes its Cologne plant in Germany being a hub for EV production. It will build a new SUV based on VW’s MEB platform from 2023.
Ford also recently announced that its Valencia, Spain, plant would receive investment for making electric vehicles on a next-generation electric vehicle architecture.

 

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