EMEFIELEGATE: EFCC Arraigns Emefiele for Alleged $4.5bn, N2.8bn Fraud

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The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Monday, April 8, 2024, arraigned the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Godwin Emefiele, before Justice R.A. Oshodi of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for an alleged $4.5bn and N2.8bn fraud.Emefiele was arraigned alongside one Henry Omoile on an amended 26-count charge.

The former CBN Governor was specifically mentioned in counts one to four as well as counts eight to 26 bordering on alleged abuse of office, contrary and punishable under Section 73 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011; accepting gratification, contrary and punishable under Section 8 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000; corrupt demand, contrary and punishable under Section 10 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000; receiving property fraudulently obtained, contrary to and punishable under Section 328 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011; and conferring corrupt advantage, contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

Omoile was mentioned in counts five, six and seven bordering on acceptance of gifts by agents, contrary to Section 65 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.

Count one reads : “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, between 2022 and 2023 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, directed to be done in abuse of the authority of your office as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, an arbitrary act, to wit: allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $2,136,391,737.33 without bids, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.”

Count two: “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, between 2020 and 2021 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, directed to be done in abuse of the authority of your office as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, an arbitrary act, to wit: allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $291,945,785.59 without bids, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.”

Count five: “That you, Henry Isioma Omoile, on or about the 17th of November 2020, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, whilst acting as an agent, accepted from Raja Punjab through Monday Osazuwa the total sum of $110,000 for Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, gifts as a reward for allocating foreign exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria in favour of Raja Punjab’s employer.”

They pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges when they were read to them.

In view of this, prosecution Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, said: “By their plea, they have given themselves up for trial.We pray the court to grant an accelerated hearing and for us to call our witnesses to prove our case.”

Counsel representing the defendants, A. Labi-Lawal, informed the court of the bail applications for the defendants, which he said had been served on the prosecution.

Moving the bail application for Emefiele, he urged the court to grant him bail “on self-recognisance” or “on the most liberal terms”, pending the hearing and determination of the case.

In his argument, he gave a background to the case involving Emefiele, being prosecuted by the EFCC, before Justice Muazu of a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court. He also informed the court that the court granted Emefiele bail in the sum of N300 million and two sureties in like sum, which he said Emefiele had met.

Labi-Lawal added that the bail condition confining him to Abuja, pending the trial in Abuja, was later varied, adding that “this is what has enabled him to be in court today. The offence is a bailable one and is not a capital offence. The defendant does not have any criminal record; and his antecedent, at the other matter, where he has dutifully attended trial, shows that he is not a flight risk.”

He further prayed the court that Emefiele “be released to his lawyers pending determination of the bail application”, so he could still attend to other charges against him.

Moving the bail application for the second defendant, he urged the court to grant him bail on most liberal terms pending the hearing and determination of the case.

Responding, Oyedepo noted that granting bail was at the discretion of the court. We allow the court to exercise this discretion judicially and judiciously,” he said. He also prayed the court to impose conditions “that will compel him to appear before this court for his trial, as what we pray for is accelerated hearing.” He further noted that there was a court order secured by the defence granting the second defendant bail. This case is now pending before your lordship,” he said.

Thereafter, Justice Oshodi adjourned till April 11, 2024 “for ruling on bail and trial.” He also ordered that Emefiele be remanded in the EFCC custody, and the second defendant at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre.

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