Godwin Emefiele, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was charged on Friday before the Federal Capital Territory’s High Court in Maitama, Abuja. Wearing a dark jacket and ash-colored pants, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria made his way to the courtroom with his group of attorneys and associates.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) initially accused Emefiele on six counts including allegations of N1.2 billion in procurement. Later, the EFCC changed the charge to 20 counts with the court’s approval. The former governor of CBN entered a not guilty plea when the amended 20-charge was read to him on Friday.
Emefiele was accused in the new complaint of forgery, unlawful breach of trust, and giving a corrupt advantage, among other things. The Federal Government lowered the number of procurement fraud charges it had originally brought against the former head of CBN to six.
In the modified accusation, Emefiele was charged with deceiving the Government of the Federation and using pretense to gain $6.2 million. The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud-Related Offences Act, 2006, Section 1(1) and Section 1(3) of the Act were allegedly broken by this activity, according to the EFCC.
The charge read as follows: “That on or about the 8th day of February 2023 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, and Odoh, Eric Ocheme (Still at large), knowingly obtained by false pretence, the sum of six million, two hundred and thirty thousand united state dollars ($6.230m) by falsely representing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation via a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.
This request was made in accordance with Mr. President’s directive. You knew this representation to be false, and as a result, you committed an offense.”
He was also charged with conspiring to commit forgery with Eric Ocheme, who is still at large. “That sometime in January 2023 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, and Odoh, Eric Ocheme (Still at large) 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.”
In addition, Emefiele was accused of giving his brother-in-law, Omoile Macombo, and wife, Omoile Margret, a corrupt benefit by giving them a N99.8 million contract to renovate a part of the CBN Governor’s house in Koyi, Lagos.
“That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in March 2020 within the jurisdiction of this honorable 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,” read the charge against Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele. “Messrs Architekon Nigeria Limited, a company wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders, was awarded 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 N99.826 million.
Emefiele’s attorney, Mathew Bukka, SAN, thanked the trial judge, Justice, after the matter was postponed until February for trial.
According to Bukka, “as a legal practitioner, I believe that compliance with the rule of law is the best thing that can happen in a system.” We have a situation where the state, especially the Ministry of Justice, believes it should add more charges to the list. The law gives them the right to do that. They have therefore added extra counts and modified the charge. We believe they have the ability to do that. We will be returning on February 12 and 13 to continue the study.
Bukka provided clarification regarding the previous charge, saying, “The extant charge is the new charge upon which plea has been made and this is what we will be handling. The case was then postponed until February 12 and 13, 2024, by trial judge Hamza Muazu, so that the trial may begin then.