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Nigeria's Anti-Corruption Agency, EFCC, Opens Case Against Former Central Bank Governor, Emefiele, Over Alleged Procurement Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched its case against the embattled former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, concerning his trial for a procurement fraud charge at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja.

The anti-graft commission has filed amended charges against Emefiele, comprising 20 counts of criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage, and breach of trust, among others. Emefiele, who had previously faced six counts and was initially arraigned on November 28, 2023, denied all charges and pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution's first witness (PW 1), Onyeka Ogbu, a deputy director in CBN branch operations, testified on Monday under the guidance of EFCC lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN). Ogbu stated that $6.2 million was earmarked for international election observers.

Ogbu explained, "On January 8, 2023, a request for payment of 6.2 million dollars was brought to my attention by the Banking services department. Ours is to make payment, we don’t have the power to approve. Having gone through the documents and satisfied, I minuted on it and sent it for processing and disbursement which was complied to."

The prosecution counsel requested the court to stand down the matter to allow for the procurement of additional documents. However, Emefiele's lawyer, Matthew Burkaa (SAN), opposed the request, suggesting that an adjournment would be more appropriate for the prosecution to obtain all the Certified True Copies and for the witness to undergo cross-examination.

Subsequently, the trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, adjourned the matter until Tuesday for the continuation of the trial.

In the amended charges, the EFCC alleged that in January 2023, Emefiele forged a document titled: "RE: Presidential Directive On Foreign Election Observer Missions," dated January 26, 2023. The commission accused Emefiele of making false claims despite knowing the document was forged, constituting an offense under the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

Moreover, the EFCC alleged that Emefiele, on February 8, 2023, collaborated with Odoh Ocheme, who is currently evading arrest, to obtain $6.2 million from the CBN, falsely claiming it was requested by the SGF. The commission further alleged that a contract for the renovation of the CBN Governor’s lodge in Lagos was awarded to a company wherein Emefiele and Ocheme are directors and majority shareholders, violating various sections of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, as well as sections of the Penal Code.

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