Court Adjourns Case Till January 18
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele has failed to meet the N300m bail granted him by a High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
This is coming seven days after the court ordered Emefiele to produce two sureties in the like sum of N300 million, who must have property in the Maitama district of Abuja.
Recall that Justice Hamza Muazu had informed the court on the bail conditions on Wednesday while ruling in the application filed by Counsel to Emefiele, Mathew Burkaa.
Muazu held that the sureties must present the title documents and Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) to the court for verification.
In addition, the former CBN governor was also directed to submit his travelling documents to the registrar of the court and must remain within the Abuja Municipal Council during the period of his trial.
But one of his lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity said that plans are underway to ensure that the bail was perfected before the week runs out.
Emefiele, who will remain in Kuje Correctional Centre pending when he meets the bail conditions, was brought to court on Wednesday, November 22 by heavily armed prison officials, who also took him away after proceedings.
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos had four months ago, granted the former CBN governor bail in the sum of N20 million, in a separate case bordering on illegal possession of arms.
Emefiele is facing charges of alleged procurement fraud filed by the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But the Federal Government had on Friday, November 17, 2023, arraigned Emefiele on a six-count charge bordering on alleged procurement.
The original charge, which was 20 counts and amounted to N6.5 billion was reduced to six, to the tune of N1.6 billion.
Emefiele is the only defendant in the new charge.
Recall that the former CBN governor appeared in court on Friday for a bail application, though he pleaded not guilty to the six-count charges aganst him.
In the amended charge sheet, the charges bordered on procurement fraud.
The Federal Government alleged that Emefiele illegally bought 43 vehicles between 2018 and 2020 worth N1.2 billion.
He was also accused of awarding a contract for the procurement of 37 Toyota Hilux Vehicles valued at N854 million.
The count one of the charge reads: “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in 2018 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 Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, a staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria by awarding a contract for the supply of 37 Toyota Hilux Vehicles at the cost of N854,700,000 only to April1616 Investment Limited, a company in which the said Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro is a director and thereby committed an offence.”
In the second count, the former CBN boss was accused of using his position to corruptly confer an advantage on Yaro, a staff of the apex bank by awarding a contract for the supply of one Toyota Avalon at the cost of N99,900,000 only to April1616 Investment Ltd, a company in which the said Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro is a director and thereby committed an offence.
The former CBN boss was also accused of conferring corrupt advantage contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 by awarding a contract for the supply of one Toyota Landcruiser V8 to April1616 Investment Limited in 2019 at the cost of N73 million.
In the fourth court, Emefiele was accused of illegally awarding a contract to April 1616 Investment Limited for the procurement of a Toyota Landcruiser V8 valued N73,800,000.
The Federal Government also accused the former CBN governor of awarding a contract to Yaro for the supply of two Toyota Hilux Shell Specification Vehicles at the cost of N44,200,000 in 2020.
Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court had adjourned the case till November 22 for ruling on the bail application of Emefiele and November 28 for the commencement of trial.
At the commencement of trial on Tuesday, November 28, the EFCC called three witnesses – Shamsudeem Abulili, Remigious Ugwu and Oluwole Owoeye– for cross examiation.
Abulili, an official of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) was the first prosecution witness. He gave evidence on how the company, April 1616 Investment Limited was incorporated on August 1, 2016 with RC : 1350837and tendered several documents on how the company was floated.
He mentioned the names of the shareholders of the company which comprised Aminu Idris Yaro, with 500,000 shares, Maryam Aliyu Abdullahi, 350,000 and Saadatu Yaro, 150, 000.
Led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo , SAN, the witness said that Emefiele was not listed as either a director or shareholder of the company.
Abulili explained that although CAC was responsible for incorporation of the company, that it played no role in the day to day running of its affairs.
The second witness, Remigious Ugwu, a Compliance Officer with Zenith Bank Plc informed the court that millions of naira were paid by the CBN into April1616 Investment Limited.
Specifically, he said that on October 19, 2020, the sum of N39, 060, 465, another N421, 953, 488 on November 6, 2020 and the third one, N304, 883, 720 were paid on November 23, 2020 to the same company by the CBN.
He noted that N304, 883, 720 was paid on January 1, 2021 and another N304, 883, 720 was also paid to the same company on March 23, 2021 by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Ugwu admitted that non of the payments was linked to Emefiele’s name and that he was unaware of the purpose of the payments.
The witness who tendered various documents on behalf of the bank, said that the former CBN governor was not a signatory to the bank account of the company.
Also, the third witness, Oluwole Owoeye, a Deputy Director, Banking Services with CBN and former Secretary to Major Contract Tendering Committee (MCTC) of the apex bank revealed that his organisation was responsible for ensuring compliance with the Procurement Act.
During cross examination by Emefiele ‘s counsel, Matthew Burkaa, SAN, Owoeye told the court that his committee was not involved in the vetting of bidding for the award of contracts that led to the prosecution of Emefiele.
The witness explained that another committee handled the bidding because it was above the threshold of his own committee
”My Lord, all I know through our records is that contracts for award of vehicle supplies were awarded to April1616 but I cannot say whether the contracts were executed or paid for because my committee played no role”.
He said that MCTC and Procurement Department were fully functional while Emefiele held sway as CBN governor.
After listening to the testimonies, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the case to January 18 and 19, 2023.