Emefiele Returns To EFCC Custody, Faces Fourth Arraignment April 25

The Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja, on Monday, sent back the immediate-past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Justice Rahman Oshodi made the remand order shortly after the anti-graft agency arraigned Emefiele on 23 counts bordering on “abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property fraudulently obtained, and conferring corrupt advantage.”

In the substance of the charges, the EFCC alleged that abused his office while he was CBN Governor through allegation allocations of $4.5bn and N2.8bn.

He was arraigned alongside Henry Isioma-Omoile, whom the EFCC accused of accepting gifts from agents.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

While Justice Oshodi ordered that Emefiele should be remanded in EFCC custody, he ordered that Isioma-Omoile be remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, where he was already being held.

The judge made the remand orders while adjourning till Thursday, April 11, 2024, to hear their bail applications.

With Monday’s order, Emefiele returns to the EFCC custody about four and a half months after he left the custody of the anti-graft agency in November 2023, following his initial 151 days in both the custody of the EFCC and the Department of State Services.

At the Monday proceedings, his lawyer, Mr Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal, hinted that the ex-CBN governor would be up for a fresh arraignment between April 25 and 26.

It will be the fourth criminal case filed against him by the Federal Government following his removal from office last June by President Bola Tinubu.

The DSS first arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos for illegal possession of firearms. The case was later withdrawn.

He was subsequently arraigned by the EFCC in November before Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Territory High Court on charges bordering on procurement fraud and forgery of the signature of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.

His Monday arraignment before Justice Oshodi in Lagos was the third.

At the Monday trial in Lagos, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), told the court that Emefiele allegedly abused the authority of his office as CBN governor by allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $2.2bn without bids, the act which was prejudiced to the rights of Nigerians.

Oyedepo also told the court that the ex-CBN governor corruptly accepted the aggregate sum of $26.5m through Donatone Ltd on account of the allocation of foreign exchange by the CBN.

The commission further accused Emefiele of receiving the sum of $400,000 from Source Computer Ltd on account of the approval of a “contract” in favour of the said company by the CBN, the institution wherein he served as the governor.

The anti-graft agency alleged that Emefiele used his position as the governor of the CBN to confer a corrupt advance on his associate, Limelight Multidimensional Services Ltd, by allegedly approving the payment of the aggregate sum of N900m to the said company.

Emefiele was also alleged to have used his position as the CBN governor to confer a corrupt advantage on Comec Support Services Ltd by approving the sum of N149m to the company.

The EFCC also alleged that the former CBN governor used his position to confer a corrupt advantage on Andswin Resources and Solutions Ltd by approving payment of the sum of N398m to the company.

The prosecutor said Emefiele, between January 20 and June 2, 2023, in Lagos corruptly, received $7,720,000 on account of foreign exchange.

He was also accused of receiving $850,000, sometime in March 2023, on account of foreign exchange in favour of his employer the CBN, the institution of government where Emefiele governed

Oyedepo told the court that Emefiele’s co-defendant, Henry Osioma-Omoile, on November 17, 2020, while acting as an agent received the sum of $110,000 through Monday Osazuwa, as a gift for Emefiele as a reward for allocating foreign currencies by CBN.

The commission also accused Isioma-Omoile of receiving the sum of $100,000, in two tranches on behalf of Emefiele as a gift reward for the allocation of foreign currency.

The prosecution said both defendants acted contrary to the provisions of sections 8, 10, and 19 of the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences

Act 2000; as well as sections 65, 73, and 328 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2011.

The two defendants, however, pleaded not guilty, following which the prosecutor urged the judge to fix a date for trial.

But the defendants’ counsel, Mr Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal, in two separate bail applications, urged the court to grant the defendants bail on liberal terms, pending the determination of the case.

Specifically, he said that the court should grant Emefiele bail on self -recognizance or release him to his counsel as he was not a flight risk.

He said Emefiele had served Nigeria as the number one banker for nine years and was also still standing trial in Abuja court and would always be available to attend court.

Labi-Lawal added that the charges filed against Emefiele were bailable offences and not capital ones.

“Though the first defendant was granted administrative bail by the prosecuting authorities, he is seeking bail based on self-recognizance and he is ready to attend trial.

“The court should also take into consideration, the status of the first defendant as he was the former CBN governor of the country,” the defence counsel said.

The defence counsel further told the court that Emefiele would likely be arraigned on another charge in Abuja between April 25 and 26, 2024.

“It is for this reason we are asking that this court grant the defendants bail, on self-recognizance or release them to their counsel so that they can attend the court in Abuja,” Labi-Lawal said.

Labi-Lawal also told Justice Oshodi that second defendant, Osioma-Omoile, was previously arraigned on Friday and was granted bail Justice O. Sule- Hazmat of the state high court in Yaba.

He urged Justice Oshodi to allow Osioma-Omoile to continue on Friday bail.

The prosecutor, Oyedepo, did not oppose the bail applications but urged the court to exercise its discretion judiciously in granting bail to the defendants.

Oyedepo also informed the court that the prosecution would like to ask for a closed section for some of their witnesses who were willing to come to court to testify but were scared for their lives.

After listening to the submissions of both counsel, Justice Oshodi ordered that Emefiele should be remanded at the EFCC’s custody, while the second defendant should be returned to the Ikoyi Correctional Centre where he was brought to the court.

The judge adjourned the case till April 11, to rule on the bail applications and to commence trial.

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