The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opened its case against the embattled former Governor of the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, regarding his trial over a procurement fraud charge he is facing at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja.
Emefiele faces a total of 20 counts, including criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage, and breach of trust. Initially charged with six counts and arraigned in November 2023, Emefiele denied all charges and pleaded not guilty.
However, the EFCC filed amended charges, prompting a re-arraignment. The EFCC’s first witness, Onyeka Ogbu, a deputy director in CBN’s branch operations, testified that $6.2 million was earmarked for international election observers. Ogbu clarified that their role was limited to processing and disbursing payments based on approved documents.
During the trial, Emefiele’s defense counsel, Matthew Burkaa, opposed the prosecution’s request for adjournment, insisting that the prosecution should gather all necessary documents before proceeding. The EFCC’s amended charges allege that Emefiele forged a document titled “Presidential Directive On Foreign Election Observer Missions” and unlawfully obtained $6.2 million from the CBN.
Furthermore, Emefiele is accused of awarding a contract for the renovation of the CBN Governor’s lodge to a company in which he and an associate are directors and majority shareholders. These allegations, if proven, would contravene various anti-corruption laws and codes.
The case highlights the ongoing efforts to combat corruption within Nigeria’s financial institutions and underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in public office. The trial is set to continue, with both sides preparing to present their evidence and arguments before the court.