EFCC slams Emefiele fresh 26-count abuse of office charge

More trouble seems to await the immediate past Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has slammed him with a fresh a 26-count charge bordering on corruption.

He is expected to be arraigned on Monday at the Ikeja State High Court in Lagos for alleged abuse of office over allocation of billions of dollars.

The charges were filed yesterday, the same day President Bola Tinubu received the final comprehensive report of the Special Investigator of the apex bank under Emefiele, and other related entities.

The Special Investigator, Mr Jim Obazee, concluded his assignment on March 31, 2024.

Charged with Emefiele in the new case is one Henry Isioma Omole.

They will be tried by Justice R.A. Oshodi.

The charge sheet, marked ID/23787c/2024 of April 3, 2024, was filed by Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Rotimi Oyedepo.

Emefiele, according to the 1st count “directed to be done in abuse of the authority of your office, as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, an arbitrary act, to wit: allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $2,136,391,737.33 without bids, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.”

The offence was allegedly committed between 2022 and 2023 and punishable under Section 73 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

Under Count two, Emefiele between 2020 and 2021, in Lagos, is alleged to have “directed to be done in abuse of the authority of your office, as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, an arbitrary, act to wit: allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $291,945,785.59, without bids, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.

In the 3rd count, Emefiele was alleged to have, in 2021, in Lagos, “directed to be done in abuse of the authority of your office, as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, an arbitrary act, to wit: special allocation of foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $1,769,254,793.16, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.”

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In count four, the sum involved was $370,872,893.01.

In count 5, Emefiele’s co defendant Omole was accused of, “about the 17th of November, 2020, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court whilst acting as an agent accepted from Raja Punjab through Monday Osazuwa, the total sum of $110,000, for GODWIN IFEANYI EMEFIELE, gifts as reward for allocating foreign exchange by the Central Bank in favor of Raja Punjab’s employer.”

Emefiele is currently being tried by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory over alleged fraudulent payment of $6,230,000 in cash for international election observers in the 2023 general elections.

Obazee submits CBN final report

President Bola Tinubu yesterday received the final comprehensive report of the Special Investigator of the CBN and other related entities, Mr. Jim Obazee, following the conclusion of his assignment.

The Special Investigator’s mandate included strengthening of key Government Business Entities (GBEs), blocking leakages in the CBN and related GBEs, providing a comprehensive report on public wealth currently in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishments (whether private or public),and investigating the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent and capable team.

Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, quoted him as saying that subsequent to the conclusion of the assignment and the submission of a final comprehensive report, and with the winding up of all apparatuses used during the scope of the task, which terminated on March 31, 2024, “the investigation is formally closed, with all appropriate law enforcement and regulatory agencies already conducting follow-up action.”

Obazee, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), was appointed by Tinubu on July 28, 2023.

The Special Investigator, in a preliminary report to the President on his assignment last December, leveled a series of allegations against Emefiele such as opening and maintaining, without proper authorization, 593 bank accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, and China, potentially holding billions of naira in public funds.

He was also accused of depositing the sum of £543,482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks without obtaining the necessary approvals from the CBN’s Board of Directors or Investment Committee.

The Special Investigator alleged that Emefiele used the ways and means to perpetrate fraud.

In one instance, the former CBN governor and Zainab Ahmed, former finance minister, allegedly signed a statement advising Buhari to restructure the ways and means of N23.71 trillion despite presenting “a different figure to the National Assembly on the same date.”

They presented N22.7 trillion to the National Assembly in December 2022.

“It was a surprise, Mr. President, that under the last administration, this noble outlet became a huge source of fraudulent drain pipe for the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the erstwhile CBN Governor, all the then four Deputy CBN Governors (under the guise of COG), the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, the Accountant General of the Federation and even the then Chief of Staff,” the panel said.

Other allegations against Emefiele by the Special Investigator are fraudulent cash withdrawal from CBN vault; suspected gross financial misconduct by Mr. Emefiele and associates; unauthorised fixed deposits of public funds and manipulation of Naira exchange rate and e-Naira project irregularities.

Other charges are: unclear approval process for Naira redesign policy; high costs associated with printing new Naira notes; questionable legal fees related to Naira redesign; foreign payments for Naira redesign features; alleged misuse of Ways and Means funding; potential fraudulent intervention programmes.

Emefiele was also alleged by the Obazee report to have engaged in the misuse of funds during COVID-19 response; misrepresentation of Presidential Approval on NESI Stabilization Strategy; potential padding of presidential approval for funds; unauthorised withdrawal using ways and means funding; alleged conspiracy to divert CBN funds; and lack of approval for securitization of Ways and Means financing.

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