The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday opened its case in the trial of ex-governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on procurement fraud charges in an FCT High Court in Abuja.
The anti-graft agency had charged Mr Emefiele with amended 20 counts of criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage, and breach of trust, among others, all of which he denied on Friday.
Emefiele was previously charged with six counts and first arraigned on 28 November 2023, before the EFCC filed the amended charges necessitating re-arraignment.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The EFCC’s first witness (PW 1) Onyeka Ogbu, a deputy director of branch operations at CBN, told EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Oyedepo that $6.2 million was kept aside for international election observers.
“On January 8, 2023 request for payment of $6.2 million was brought to my attention by the Banking Services Department.
“Ours is to make payment, we don’t have power to approve. Having gone through the documents and satisfied, I minuted on it and sent it for processing and disbursement which was complied to,” he said.
Oyedepo prayed for the matter to be stood down to enable him get more documents.
But the former CBN governor’s lawyer, Matthew Burkaa, refused the prayer of the prosecution.
He said an adjournment would be better for the prosecution to get all the certified true copies and also for the witness to be cross-examined.
After listening to their submissions, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the matter until Tuesday for the continuation of trial.
In some of the amended charges, EFCC alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document on presidential directive on foreign election observers dated January 26, 2023.
According to the amended charge, Emefiele, on February 8, 2023, connived with one Odoh Ocheme, who is now on the run, to obtain $6.2 million from the CBN, claiming that it was requested by the secretary to the government of the federation.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the contract for the renovation of the CBN governor’s lodge, located at No. 2 Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos was awarded to a company named Messrs. Architekon Nigeria Limited, “wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders.”