Emefiele Back in EFCC Custody, Set for Fourth Court Appearance on April 25

by Ohepo Ohepo

Godwin Emefiele, the immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was returned to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s custody by the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja on Monday.

Shortly after Emefiele was charged by the anti-graft agency with 23 offences related to “abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property fraudulently obtained, and conferring corrupt advantage,” Justice Rahman Oshodi issued the remand order.

The Bureau Newspaper understands that the main thrust of the accusations, the EFCC claimed that the defendant misused his position as governor of CBN by allegedly allocating N2.8 billion and $4.5 billion.

Henry Isioma-Omoile, who the EFCC claimed had accepted gifts from agents, was also arraigned alongside him.

To the accusations, both defendants entered a not guilty plea.

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

The remand orders were issued by the judge, who postponed the hearing on their bail requests to Thursday, April 11, 2024.

Emefiele spent his first 151 days in the custody of both the Department of State Services and the EFCC. With Monday’s order, he is back in the anti-graft agency’s custody almost four and a half months after leaving it in November 2023.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was alluded to by his attorney, Mr. Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal, during the hearings on Monday, April 25–26, as the date of the next arraignment.

This will be the Federal Government’s fourth criminal case against him since President Bola Tinubu removed him from office in June of last year.

The DSS was initially charged with unlawful gun possession before the Federal High Court in Lagos. Later, the case was dropped.

He was then charged by the EFCC in November with procurement fraud and forging the signature of former President Muhammadu Buhari before Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Territory High Court.

It was his third arraignment before Justice Oshodi in Lagos on Monday.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), told the court during the trial on Monday in Lagos that Emefiele had allegedly abused his position as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by allotting foreign exchange totaling $2.2 billion without soliciting bids, an action that jeopardised Nigerians’ rights.

Additionally, Oyedepo said the court that the former governor of the CBN had dishonestly collected a total of $26.5 million through Donatone Ltd. as payment for the CBN’s foreign exchange allocation.

The panel also charged Emefiele with accepting $400,000 from Source Computer Ltd. as a result of the CBN, the organisation for which he was governor, approving a “contract” in the company’s favour.

The anti-graft agency claimed that Emefiele gave his partner Limelight Multidimensional Services Ltd a fraudulent advance by using his position as governor of the CBN to approve the payment of N900 million to the firm in question.

Additionally, Emefiele was accused of using his authority as the governor of the CBN to give Comec Support Services Ltd a corrupt advantage by allowing the payment of N149 million to the company.

The EFCC further claimed that the former governor of the CBN gave Andswin Resources and Solutions Ltd. a corrupt benefit by sanctioning the payment of N398 million to the business.

The prosecutor said that Emefiele fraudulently collected $7,720,000 in foreign exchange in Lagos between January 20 and June 2, 2023.

Additionally, he was charged with accepting $850,000 at some point in March 2023 as payment for foreign exchange on behalf of his employer, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the government organisation that Emefiele oversaw.

Oyedepo informed the court that on November 17, 2020, Henry Osioma-Omoile, Emefiele’s co-defendant, got $110,000 as a present for Emefiele as a reward for allocating foreign dollars by CBN while working as an agent.

The commission further charged that Isioma-Omoile accepted $100,000 in two installments as a present reward for Emefiele’s foreign exchange allocation.

According to the prosecution, the defendants violated sections 8, 10, and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences law.

Act 2000; also, sections 65, 73, and 328 of Lagos State’s 2011 Criminal Laws.

But when the two defendants entered not guilty pleas, the prosecutor asked the judge to set a trial date.

However, Mr. Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal, the defendants’ attorney, asked the court to grant the defendants lenient release terms while the case was being decided in two different bail applications.

He specifically stated that Emefiele was not a flight risk and that the court should give him bail on his own recognisance or release him to his attorney.

According to him, Emefiele was Nigeria’s top banker for nine years, was currently on trial in an Abuja court, and would always be available to appear in court.

Labi-Lawal went on to say that Emefiele’s charges were not capital offences but rather ones that could be released on bond.

“Even though the prosecuting authorities granted administrative bail to the first defendant, he is ready to appear in court and is requesting bail based on self-recognizance.”

The defence attorney stated, “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 attorney also informed the court that Emefiele will probably be arraigned in Abuja on April 25–26, 2024, on another charge.

In order to enable the defendants to appear in court in Abuja, Labi-Lawal stated, “We are requesting that this court grant the defendants bail, on self-recognizance, or release them to their counsel.”

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

He implored Justice Oshodi to grant Osioma-Omoile her Friday bail so that she can proceed.

While Oyedepo, the prosecutor, did not object to the bail requests, she did ask the court to use its discretion carefully when granting the defendants bail.

Oyedepo also told the court that several of the prosecution’s witnesses, who were eager to appear in court to testify but were afraid for their lives, would prefer that the prosecution request a closed section.

Following his consideration of the arguments made by both attorneys, Justice Oshodi ruled that the second defendant should be sent back to the Ikoyi Correctional Centre and Emefiele should be placed under detention at the EFCC’s custody.

In order to make a decision regarding the bail requests and start the trial, the judge postponed the case until April 11.

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