$6.2m Fraud: EFCC Opens Case Against Emefiele

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, February 12, 2024, opened its case in the trial of the former Governor of the Central Bank Governor (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on a procurement fraud charge in an FCT High Court in Abuja.

The EFCC had charged Emefiele with amended 20 counts of criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage, and breach of trust, among others, all of which he denied last Friday.

Emefiele was previously charged with six counts and first arraigned on 28 November 2023, before the EFCC filed the amended charges necessitating a re-arraignment.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

The EFCC’s first witness, Onyeka Ogbu, a Deputy Director in CBN, branch operations, while led in evidence by EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), said $6.2 million was kept aside for international election observers.

Ogbu said: “On January 8, 2023, a request for payment of $6.2 million was brought to my attention by the banking services department.

“Ours is to make payment, we don’t have 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.”

He prayed for the matter to be stood down to enable him to get more documents.

But Emefiele’s lawyer, Matthew Burkaa (SAN), refused the prayer of the prosecution.

He said an adjournment would be better for the prosecution to get all the certified true copies and also for the witness to be cross-examined.

After listening to their submissions, the presiding judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, adjourned the matter until Tuesday, February 13, for the continuation of trial.

In some of the amended charges, the EFCC alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document entitled, “Re: Presidential Directive on Foreign Election Observer Missions”, and dated January 26, 2023, with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.

The anti-graft agency said Emefiele made the claim despite knowing that it was false “and you thereby 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 $6.2 million from the CBN, claiming that it was requested by the SGF via a letter dated January 26, 2023, with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.

The EFCC alleged that the contract for the renovation of the CBN Governor’s lodge, located at No. 2 Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, was awarded to a company named Messrs. Architekon Nigeria Limited, “wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders.”

The offence, according to EFCC, contravened the provisions of sections 17, 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, also, sections 315, 363 and 364 of the penal code.