Again, Ex-CBN Governor Emefiele Perfects Bail Conditions, Regains Freedom

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A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has been released from the Kuje Correctional Centre after his lawyers perfected his bail conditions.

His lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mathew Burkaa, confirmed this to Channels Television.

Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court had granted him bail in sum of N300 million with two sureties in like sum.

Emefiele was arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on procurement fraud and using his position to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’adatu Yaro, a staff of the CBN, by awarding a contract for the procurement of 43 vehicles worth N1.2 billion between 2018 and 2020.

While he was remanded in Kuje, Emefiele was mandated to deposit all his travel documents with the registrar of the court and must remain within the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).

The trial over his alleged procurement of vehicles has already began before Justice Hamza Muazu.

Road To Detention

Emefiele was first taken into custody  by the Department of State Services (DSS) in June following his suspension as the CBN governor by President Bola Tinubu.

Confirming the arrest of Emefiele at the time, the DSS spokesperson Peter Afunanya had said, “The Department of State Services (DSS) hereby confirms that Mr Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is now in its custody for some investigative reasons.

“The public, particularly the Media, is enjoined to apply utmost caution in the reportage and narratives concerning this.”

After his arrest, Emefiele had approached the FCT High Court in Abuja, challenging his detention by the DSS.

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While delivering ruling on the fundamental human right suit file by Emefiele, Justice Hamza Muazu had issued a one-week ultimatum to DSS to either charge him to Court or set him free.

Charged For Possession of Illegal Firearm

In July, the Federal Government filed a two-count charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition against Emefiele before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

He was accused of possessing a single-barrel shotgun (JOJEFF MAGNUM 8371) without a licence.

The government maintained that the offence is contrary to Section 4 of the Firearms Act, Cap F28 Laws of the Federation 2004, and punishable under Section 27 (1b) of the same Act.

In the second count, the suspended CBN Governor was accused of having in his possession 123 rounds of live ammunition (Cartridges) without a licence, which is contrary to Section 8 of the Firearms Act Cap F28 Laws of the Federation 2004 and punishable under Section 27 (1)(b)(il) of the same Act.

However, On August 17, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos struck out the “illegal possession of firearm charge” against Emefiele following an application by the Ministry of Justice to withdraw it.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo struck out the charge after holding that the prosecution had the statutory powers to withdraw a charge against a defendant at any stage of the trial.

Arraigned For Alleged N1.6bn Fraud

After withdrawing illegal firearm possession suit against Emefiele, the Federal Government on November arraigned him on a six count charge bordering on alleged procurement.

The original charge, which was 20 counts to the tune of N6.5 billion, was reduced to six, to the tune of N1.6 billion, with Emefiele being the only defendant in the new charge.

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He, however, pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge after it was read to him.

Granted N300m Bail

Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court Abuja, on November 22, granted Emefiele bail in the sum of N300 million and two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must have certificates of occupancy and titles of properties within the Maitama District.

He was also mandated to deposit all his travel documents with the registrar of the court and must remain within the Abuja Municipal Council.

He remained  in Kuje Correctional Centre until after perfecting his bail conditions on Friday.

Fresh Allegation

Emefiele’s freedom is however coming after a new allegation against him emerged following more than four months of investigation by the Speci Investigator probing the Central Bank of Nigeria, Jim Obaze.

Obaze accused Emefiele and others of embezzling billions of naira and committed other gross financial offences.

According to a report by the online newspaper Premium Times, Obazee’s findings and recommendations were contained in a report he submitted to President Bola Tinubu on December 9, 2023.

The findings include that Emefiele who was in office from June 2014 to June 2023, was engaged “in fraudulent cash withdrawal of $6.23 million”, and perpetrated fraud in the redesign of the naira, while Emefiele kept 543.4 million pounds in the United Kingdom.

An online newspaper, Premium Times, which saw a copy of Obazee’s submission to President Tinubu, also reported that Emefiele was found to have manipulated the exchange rate, fraudulently used the Ways and Means to the tune of N26.6tn, launched fraudulent intervention programmes, made fraudulent expenditures on COVID-19, and manipulated presidential approval, among other things.

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Consequently, Obazee recommended that Emefiele and others, including his deputy governors, be prosecuted for financial offences.

With regards to the controversial naira redesign, which eventually led to acute naira scarcity and inflicted hardship on millions of Nigerians, Obazee said the process violated the CBN Act.

He was quoted as saying the redesign was neither recommended by the Board of the CBN nor approved by the then President, Muhammadu Buhari, “contrary to the provisions of Section 19 (1) of the CBN Act, 2007.

Premium Times added that Obazee said the naira redesign “was a conspiracy against the Nigerian people and specifically the political class… “It was indeed meant to frustrate the political class and make their election agenda very difficult. It turned out to be a huge punishment to Nigerians and the Nigerian Economy coincidentally.”

The former CBN Governor has been in custody since he was arrested by the DSS in June after his ouster. He is currently being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which has accused him of committing a N1.2bn procurement fraud. That trial had opened on November 29, 2023, days before Mr Obazee submitted the report of his investigation to Mr Tinubu.

Emefiele and his legal team have yet to respond to the latest accusations. However, the former CBN governor and his legal team have denied any wrongdoing in response to previous allegations. (Channels)

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