Public focus will shift to the court in the coming days as the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, Lateef Fagbemi is currently finalising the processes for the prosecution of the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and others who were accused of wrongdoings while in office.
The prosecution of the former CBN governor which will begin soon, sources said, will be based on the outcome of the investigation of the apex bank and others by the team of the Special Investigator led by Jim Obazee, the former executive secretary of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) who was appointed by President Bola Tinubu to investigate the CBN and related entities.
The arraignment will be at the federal high courts in Abuja, the venue of the alleged crimes.
Modupe Ogundoro, Director Press, Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice said she is not aware of the development, but findings by InsideBusinessNG show that Fagbemi, President Bola Tinubu, the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, the Special Investigator and the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun have been meeting on the arraignment since December 2023, up to the early days of January 2024, and have agreed on the charges and the processes.
Further findings show that other defendants alongside Emefiele include the four deputy governors namely, Edward Adamu, Aisha Ahmad, Kingsley Obiora and the former acting governor of the CBN, Folashodun Shonubi.
Others that may also appear as the trial proceeds are the former chairman of Titan Trust Bank, Babatunde Lemo, the outgone CBN finance director, Benjamin Fakunle, former personal aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Tunde Sabiu and others found culpable in the alleged messy situation at the apex bank and the related entities.
Emefiele who was appointed on 4th June 2014, during the tenure of former president Jonathan Goodluck, is currently on bail from prison custody over financial crime charges by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). This time, Emefiele and his co-defendants, according to sources at the apex bank, will face charges bordering on corruption, abuse of office, violation of the CBN rules and diversion of government funds.
The CBN, last Wednesday, according to Sidi Ali Hakama, the Acting-Director, Corporate Communications, dissolved the boards and management of Titan-Union Bank, Keystone Bank and Polaris Bank owing to violation of sections 12 (c), (f), (g), (h) of Banks and Other Financial Act, (BOFIA) 2020. The banks whose ownership is allegedly linked to Emefiele by the report of the Obazee’s team were said to have committed infractions varying from non-compliance, corporate governance failure, disregarding the conditions under which their licenses were granted, and involvement in activities that pose a threat to financial stability among others.
Obazee was appointed via a 28th July 2024 letter, entitled, “Appointment As Special Investigator of the Central Bank and related entities”, which states, “In accordance with the fundamental objective set forth in section 15 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, this administration is, today, continuing the fight against corruption by appointing you as a Special Investigator, to investigate the CBN and Related Entities. This appointment shall be with immediate effect, and you are to report directly to my office”.
The letter reads further, “The full terms of your engagement as Special Investigator shall be communicated to you in due course but, require that immediately take steps to ensure the strengthening and probity of key Government Business Entities (GBEs), further block leakages in CBN and related GBEs and provide a comprehensive report on public wealth in the hands of corrupt individuals and establishment (whether private or public). You are to investigate the CBN and related entities using a suitably experienced, competent, and capable team and work with relevant security and anti-corruption agencies to deliver on this assignment. I shall expect a weekly briefing on the progress being made”, stated the letter with the attached 9th June 2023 directive that suspended Emefiele from office.
Obazee, in his report, has a detailed history of sleaze during the tenure of Emefiele and the four deputy governors including the authorised funding of 593 bank accounts in the United Kingdom, United States of America and China; fraudulent cash withdrawal of $6.23 million from the CBN vault under a purported presidential approval to pay foreign election observers; gross financial misconduct by Emefiele and at least 13 other individuals, including his Deputy Governors and acting Deputy Governor after the suspension of Emefiele, Folashodun Shonubi; £543.4 million held in fixed deposits by Emefiele; manipulation of the Naira exchange rate and perpetration of fraud in the CBN’s e-Naira project; unauthorised Naira Redesign without Board or presidential approval; and printing of new N200, N500, N1,000 notes, costing N61.5 billion, with N31.8 billion paid to the contractor.
Other findings of the report include the expenditure of N1.73 billion on questionable legal fees related to the Naira Redesign; payment of £205,000 to a UK Firm for the Naira Redesign; fraudulent use of Ways and Means totaling N26.627 trillion; fraudulent intervention programmes; and fraudulent expenditures related to COVID-19.
Others were misrepresentation of presidential approval on the NESI Stabilization Strategy Limited; padding of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval by N198.96 billion; unapproved N500 billion taken and debited to Ways and Means without former presidential approvals, and lack of approval for the N22.72 trillion presented to the 9th National Assembly to illegitimately securitise the Ways and Means financing.