Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, has described the freezing of the state salary bailout account by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a joke taken too far.
He disclosed this to State House correspondents on Tuesday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He further explained that none of the state bank accounts was frozen or embargoed by the EFCC.
Bello said anyone who wants to attack his towering name and integrity because of 2023 is making a mistake.
He said, "very straightforward answer to a question. No Kogi State government's salary account is frozen. None whatsoever. None of our accounts were frozen or embargo placed on any of our accounts by EFCC at all. I think it's just a misrepresentation of facts or a joke taken too far.
"My Information Commissioner and all those that are concerned with that lies peddled by the EFCC, I think they have responded appropriately. And I will urge every Nigerian to please go to the Kogi State website, all the facts are there.
"The Banks have denied that we don't have such an account. And beside that, the bailout fund that we obtained, we appropriated in line with the agreement and understanding between the Kogi State government and the workers.
"And all of these were done, we finished all of these, you know, in the year 2019. So first, there's no N20billion account, or N19 billion, no fixed deposit account. So I don't know where the lie is coming from.
"I think in the days ahead, you will hear exactly where the matter shall be resolved. That's why I said it's a joke taken too far. And I want to believe that either the officials of the EFCC may have misled the commission.
"Remember that we will not just allow this to lie low because Mr. President's pride in fighting corruption. And EFCC is one of the agencies that is being used to fight corruption. EFCC should not be seen to be going on a voyage of no discovery in order for the reputation of the commission and integrity of this particular government remains intact."
He further explained that, "as a person, I came into this office with my integrity high. And I will leave this office of government with a higher integrity and all of my name that are ringing bell everywhere across the world today will know that actually I earned this beautiful names, not because of stealing.
"I will never touch one kobo of Kogi State, I will never and I will never allow any of my officials to do so."
Governor Bello further stated that today Kogi State is among the first that has published all of its accounts online, noting that all of the spendings have been put in the public domain for the whole world to see.
"That is transparency. I think I challenge Nigerians to challenge all of those governors to publish that same particular bailout fund utilisation," he added.
Court Freezes Kogi Bailout Account Over N20bn Loan
On why he came to see the president, "I came to see our father, Mr. president to appreciate him on behalf of the good people of Kogi State, that today, Kogi is the first Nigerian northern state to be referred to as oil producing state. We came to appreciate Mr. President for that magnanimity, and also to congratulate the people of Kogi State, and Nigerians, generally.
"We equally brought a request to the effect that the Ajaokuta steel company is still moribund. And his efforts in ensuring that he revive Ajaokuta steel complex. We made a submission to the effect that he should in the life of his administration, be able to complete that Ajaokuta complex.
"And Mr. President received all of these and more with pleasure and he promised that something is going to be done to ensure that Ajaokuta is revived and running before the end of this administration."