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EFCC freezes Plateauís accounts

Posted by Jude Owuamanam on 2006/01/18 | Views: 518 |

EFCC freezes Plateauís accounts


THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has frozen all accounts operated by the Plateau State Government in four banks.

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has frozen all accounts operated by the Plateau State Government in four banks.

The banks, which the EFCC directed to stop forthwith further disbursements to the state, are the Intercontinental Bank, Lion Bank, Diamond Bank and All States Trust Bank.

Lion Bank, under the just-concluded consolidation, gave up its identity by teaming up with Diamond Bank.

All States Trust Bank is one of the 14 banks whose licences were withdrawn on Monday by the Central Bank of Nigeria for failing to meet the December 31, 2005 deadline to recapitalise to the tune of N25billion

No reason was given for the action, which was in compliance with a ruling, by a Federal High Court in Lagos.

In a letter to the Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank with reference no. CR:3000/EFCC/LS/EG.1/Vol2/9 and dated January 13, the EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, said he was acting under the authority conferred on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 1 of 2004.

The letter signed by Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, and obtained on Wednesday by our correspondent, listed 20 of such accounts with the Intercontinental Bank; 10 with the defunct Lion Bank, and one each with Diamond Bank and All States Trust Bank.

The EFCC further requested the banks to furnish it with the schedule of the person and assets against which the court order was sought.

The State Government, in its reaction, condemned the freezing of the accounts as a ploy by the EFCC to set the people against the Governor, Chief Joshua Dariye.

The Commissioner for Informationer, Mr. Yakubu Datti, said that the action was not targeted at Dariye, but at the citizens.

He said that by freezing the accounts, the anti-graft body failed to realise that the entire citizenry would suffer.

Datti wondered why the action had to be taken at this time of the year when people had spent their salaries during the Christmas and Sallah celebrations.

He said, "As far as we are concerned, it is an onslaught against the people of the state and it goes to confirm what we have been saying that the EFCC has taken the anti-corruption crusade to a personal level. The action has opened another chapter in the struggle for equity and justice.

"It is not about Dariye, but a calculated attempt to create confusion and instigate the people against their elected government."

Our correspondent also reported that Ribadu did not honour an invitation by the Plateau State House of Assembly to appear before its committee probing the allegations of financial impropriety against Dariye.

Ribadu was expected by the committee to shed more light on the letter he sent to the Assembly, detailing allegations of money laundering against the governor by the Metropolitan Police in London.

After waiting till 1.30pm for Ribadu who was billed to appear by 10am, the Chairman of the Committee, Alhaji Usman Musa, adjourned sitting to Thursday (today).

Musa later told journalists that the committee would not be in a hurry to pass judgment on why Ribadu failed to show up.

Before the adjournment, some people in about 10 buses stormed the Assembly complex declaring their support for the freezing of the stateís accounts.

Policemen chased them away.

The protesters were alleged to have been hired by a top politician in the state and a former local government chairman.

Another group besieged the Jos country home of elder statesman and a former civilian governor of the state, Chief Solomon Lar, protesting what it called a siege laid to the state by the anti-graft body.

The PUNCH, Thursday, January 19, 2006

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