Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, granted the request of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to freeze the operational account of the state domiciled in First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
The judge, who adjourned the matter to September 3, 2019, urged the commission to notify the respondents – the Bauchi State Government and FCMB – within 21 days.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo gave the order on Monday after lawyer to the EFCC, Abu-Bakr Aliyu, moved an ex-parte application he filed to that effect.
The EFCC stated in the suit that it was investigating a money laundering case, in which the account featured prominently.
It claimed that the states immediate past government was involved in money laundering for which it deployed the account.
The EFCC stated that it needed to have the account frozen to preserve the funds being held in it.
An official of the EFCC, Jakub Sani, stated in a supporting affidavit that “it is a fact that between the 24th and 28th day of May, 2019, the applicant received 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 of 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 said bank account is N11, 500,000 000 00 which was paid to the Bauchi State Government by the Federal Government of Nigeria via 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 of 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 mandates for the 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 of justice to grant this application.”