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Emefiele sought approval for disbursement of $6.2m to int’l observers, EFCC witness says

 Onyeka Ogbu, a deputy director, branch operations at the
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor,
sought approval for the disbursement of $6,230,000 “to international election
observers”.

 

Ogbu said this while testifying before a federal capital
territory high court in Maitama, as the first prosecution witness in the suit
against Emefiele.

 

Leading the witness in evidence on Monday, Rotimi Oyedepo,
EFCC lawyer, asked Ogbu to speak on certain documents regarding the case.

 

The documents, according to the witness, related to the
disbursement of the said $6,230,000 funds.

 

“On January 8, 2023 request for payment of $6,230,000 was
brought to my attention by the banking services department,” the witness said.

 

“When I received the document, I found that it was from the
Banking Services Department.

 

“The director, banking services signed the memo, and the
content of the memo contained an instruction for the Branch Controller to pay
the sum of $6,230,000 to a staff of the secretary to the government of the
federation, with the identity and the name of the person mentioned.

 

 “The memo said the
payment was for international election observers and that we should debit an
account — Naira Forex Account — with the naira equivalent of $6,230,000.

 

“The memo also said that the money will be refunded in the
second quarter of 2023 by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

 

“It went on to say ‘find attached the approval of the
governor of the CBN for the payment.’

 

“The attachment had the approval of the governor of the CBN.
It also had the approval of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
and the request letter from the secretary to the government of the federation.

 

 “Having gone through
the documents and satisfied, I minuted on it and sent for processing and
disbursement which was complied with.”

 

On whether the money was eventually released, the witness
said: “Payment was eventually made. The $6,230,000 was paid on the 8th of
September 2023. The payment was in cash”.

 

At the point of tendering the documents, the prosecution
counsel noticed that two of the documents were not properly certified. Oyedepo
then sought a stand-down to enable them get the certified true copies.

 

However, Matthew Burkaa, counsel to Emefiele, opposed the
application.

 

He said an adjournment was better to allow the prosecution
get all the certified true copies of all the needed documents and also for the
witness to be cross-examined.

 

After listening to their submissions, Hamza Muazu, presiding
judge, adjourned until Tuesday for the continuation of the trial.

BACKGROUND

 

The federal government, on January 18, amended the criminal
charges filed against the former CBN governor.

 

The charges, formerly six counts, were increased to 20
counts.

 

The amended charges border on alleged criminal breach of
trust, forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, procurement fraud and conspiracy
to commit a felony.

 

At the previous hearing, the court agreed to vary Emefiele’s
bail condition which previously restricted him to the FCT.

 

The court granted the application permitting the former CBN
governor to travel within Nigeria but restrained him from leaving the country
during the pendency of the case.

 

In some of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Emefiele, in
January 2023, forged a document titled: “RE: PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE ON FOREIGN
ELECTION OBSERVER MISSIONS,” dated 26 January 2023 with Ref No.
SGF.43/L.01/201.

 

The EFCC said Emefiele made the claim despite knowing it to
be false and committed an offence contrary to 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 the SGF requested it “vide a
letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201″.

 

Meanwhile, the EFCC has declared Emefiele’s wife, Margaret,
wanted for money laundering.

 

The anti-graft agency published photos and details of
Margaret and three others in a notice on Friday.

 

The three other persons were identified as Eric Ocheme Odoh,
Anita Joy Omoile, and Jonathan Omoile.

 

In the notice signed by Dele Oyewale, head of media and publicity,
the EFCC said the quartet allegedly colluded with the former CBN governor to
divert “huge sums” from federal government coffers.

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