Politics

BREAKING: A witness has come forward to reveal that Emefiele approved .23 million to fund international election observers.

Lead witness, Onyeka Ogbu, in the case involving the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has revealed that the ex-CBN boss approved the release of $6,230,000 to international election observers. Ogbu disclosed this at the resumption of the trial at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on Monday. Ogbu, who is the first witness, PW-1, in the amended 20-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) preferred against Emefiele, told the court that he is a Deputy Director at the CBN, in charge of branch operations.

Led by EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), the witness identified some documents he said were related to the disbursement of the approved funds to foreign election observers. He told the court that his attention was brought to the approval by one of the departments at the CBN, adding that his own responsibility was to process the release of the requested fund in accordance with the due process.

“On January 8, 2023, the request for payment of $6,230,000 was brought to my attention by the Banking Services Department. Ours is to make payment. We do not have the power to approve. So, having gone through the documents and satisfied, I minuted on it and sent for processing and disbursement which was complied with,” the witness added.

During the identification of the documents, it was discovered that two of them were missing. Consequently, the prosecution counsel requested for the trial to be stood down to enable him to get the missing documents. However, Emefiele’s lawyer, Matthew Burkaa (SAN) argued that instead of a stand down, the matter should be adjourned till another date to enable the prosecution to put its house in order and for the witness to be cross-examined.

Justice Hamza Muazu accordingly adjourned the matter till Tuesday for continuation of hearing. It will be recalled that the anti-graft agency had, on January 20, re-arraigned the former CBN boss on an amended charge that bordered on criminal conspiracy, forgery, breach of trust, and the allegation that he conferred undue advantage on himself.

In the amended charge, the agency accused the defendant of obtaining about $6.2 million through false pretence, alleging that he falsely represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. He was accused of committing an offence that was in contravention of Section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

According to the amended charge, marked: CR/577/2023, Emefiele, on February 8, 2023, connived with one Odoh Ocheme, who is now on the run, to obtain $6.2m from the CBN, claiming that it was requested by the SGF “vide a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.”