Sunday, April 14, 2024
Sunday, April 14, 2024

A witness testified about how Emefiele approved a payment of $6,230,000 for international election observers.

In the ongoing trial of the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, the first prosecution witness, Ogau Onyeka Michael, revealed crucial details before Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Maitama, Abuja, on February 12, 2024. Michael’s testimony shed light on Emefiele’s approval of a substantial cash payment amounting to $6,230,000 for international election observers during the 2023 general election. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) issued a statement, emphasizing that Michael’s revelations are a pivotal aspect of the ongoing trial.

The EFCC’s statement highlighted the nature of the charges against Emefiele, who is facing a 20-count amended indictment. The charges encompass a range of offenses, including corrupt advantages, conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, forgery, and obtaining by false pretenses, all linked to the alleged misappropriation of $6,230,000. These charges signify a serious legal challenge for the former CBN boss, as he stands accused of financial misconduct and abuse of his position.

The significance of Michael’s testimony lies in its potential to provide the court with critical insights into the alleged corruption and financial impropriety associated with Emefiele’s tenure as CBN governor. The trial, presided over by Justice Muazu, will play a pivotal role in determining the culpability of the accused and addressing the broader implications of financial mismanagement within key institutions. As the legal proceedings unfold, the case against Emefiele raises concerns about transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s financial and political spheres.

As the trial progresses, it will be crucial to closely follow the developments in the courtroom to understand the full extent of the accusations against Emefiele and to gauge the implications for both the individual and the larger governance framework in Nigeria. The trial holds the potential to shape public perception of accountability in high-profile positions and influence the trajectory of anti-corruption efforts in the country.

‘’At the resumed trial on Monday, Michael, a former branch controller of the CBN, Abuja branch, led in evidence by the prosecution counsel,  Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, identified the documents presented to him by the prosecution adding that he worked on the documents.

According to him, on January 8, 2023, a request for payment in the sum of  $6,230,000  came to his office and documents for the disbursement of the money were approved by the then CBN boss in cash for international election observers.

My Lord, all requests for payments are usually channelled to the branch controller and that is my office. And on that day, my Lord, the request to my office was $6,230,000 and my attention was drawn towards it by my office assistant. It came from the banking services department and the memo carried the signature of the Director,  Banking Services, with an instruction to the branch controller to pay the sum of $6,230,000 to a staff of the  Secretary to the Government of the Federation, bearing the name and identity card of the person”, he said.

Michael went on to explained that;

“it stated that the payment was for election observance and be paid cash in a naira equivalent of the said amount. It further stated that the money should be refunded in the second quarter of 2023 by the Federal Ministry of Finance. My Lord, the document also stated that, ‘find attached the approval of the governor of the Central  Bank of Nigeria for the payment’.

Also, the memo had an attached approval of the then Secretary to the  Government of the Federation, and that of the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having gone through the document and satisfied that it met the requirement, I then minuted it to the head of the banking services unit for processing and subsequent payment. Mr. Williams, head of banking services compiled and made the payment on  April 8, 2023, and the payment was in cash. I can identify the document because it also carries my signature”, he said.

While attempting to submit all six documents as exhibits, Oyedepo informed the court that two of the documents, featuring the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the President’s approval, were photocopies. He requested to present the remaining four original documents, expressing the intention to submit the remaining two later in the course of the trial. Oyedepo also sought a 30-minute recess to obtain the original copies from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) complex.

The defense counsel, Mathew Bukka, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), opposed Oyedepo’s requests, arguing that since the case was scheduled for both February 12 and 13, an adjournment to the latter date would be more appropriate. Bukka contended that the 30-minute break sought by Oyedepo might not provide sufficient time for the prosecution to secure the original documents from the CBN.

After considering the arguments from both sides, Justice Muazu decided to adjourn the matter until February 13, 2024, for the continuation of the trial.

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