EFCC accuses Emefiele of forgery in fresh charges
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, was on Friday arraigned at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, on 20 count-charge bordering on corruption and forgery.
Dressed in an ash-coloured pair of trousers and a dark jacket, the ex-CBN governor arrived at the court premises accompanied by his team of lawyers and associates.
Recall that Emefiele was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on six counts of N1.2bn procurement allegations.
The EFCC on the leave of the court subsequently amended the charge pressed against Emefiele.
When the amended 20-charge was read out to him on Friday, the former CBN governor pleaded not guilty.
In the new charge, Emefiele was accused of forgery, conferring a corrupt advantage and criminal breach of trust among others.
The Federal Government had initially filed 19 charges against the ex-CBN boss bordering on procurement fraud which were later pruned down to six
In the amended charge, Emefiele was accused of obtaining $6.2m by pretence, by falsely representing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
This, the EFCC said contravened 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.
The charge read, “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele male, adult, and Odoh, Eric Ocheme (Still at large) on or about the 8th day of February 2023 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court knowingly obtained by false pretence, the sum of six million, two hundred and thirty thousand united state dollar ($6.230m) by falsely representing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation vide a letter dated 26th January, 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201 requested the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide a contingent logistic advance in the sum of $6.230m in line with Mr President’s directive, which representation you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence.”
He was also accused of conniving with one Eric Ocheme, who has been at large, to commit forgery.
It read, “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele male, adult, and Odoh, Eric Ocheme (Still at large) sometime in January 2023 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court agreed among yourselves to cause to be done an illegal act to wit: forgery of a document titled: Re: Presidential directive on foreign election observer missions, dated 26 January 2023, with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201 and you thereby committed an offence.”
Emefiele was also accused of conferring corrupt advantage on his wife, Omoile Margret, and brother-in-law, Omoile Macombo, by awarding a contract for the renovation of a portion of the CBN Governor’s residence in Koyi, Lagos to the tune of N99.8m.
The offence, according to the Federal Government, contravened Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.
The charge read, “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in March 2020 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did use your position as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to confer a corrupt advantage on your wife, Omoile Margret, and brother-in-law Omoile Macombo, by awarding a contract for the external renovation of the CBN Governor’s residence lying, being and situate at No. 2 Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the sum of N99.826m to Messrs Architekon Nigeria Limited, a company wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders and you thereby committed an offence.”
Addressing journalists shortly after the case was adjourned till February for trial, counsel to Emefiele, Mathew Bukka, SAN, thanked the trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, for allowing the ex-CBN boss to enjoy his bail ahead of the commencement of trial, stressing that his client would return to face trial on the amended charge.
He said, “As a legal practitioner, I think the best thing to happen in a system is when you have compliance with the rule of law. What we have is a situation in which the state, particularly the Ministry of Justice, feels that they want to put more counts in the charge. They are entitled by law to do that.
So, what they have done is to amend the charge and add more counts. For us, it is within their powers to do that. We are coming back on the 12th and 13th of February to proceed with the trial.”
On what became of the old charge, Bukka noted that “The extant charge is the new charge upon which plea has been taken and this is what we will be dealing with.”
The trial judge, Hamza Muazu adjourned the case to February 12 and 13, 2024 for the commencement of trial.