The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, was arraigned on Friday at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, on a 20-count charge bordering on corruption and forgery. Dressed in an ash-coloured pair of trousers and a dark jacket, Emefiele appeared at the court accompanied by his legal team and associates.
This development follows the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) initial arraignment of Emefiele on six counts related to N1.2bn procurement allegations. Subsequently, the EFCC, with the court’s approval, amended the charges against the ex-CBN governor, resulting in the new 20-count charge.
Emefiele, upon the reading of the amended charge on Friday, pleaded not guilty. The charges include allegations of forgery, conferring a corrupt advantage, and criminal breach of trust, among others. In one instance, Emefiele was accused of obtaining $6.2m by false pretense, falsely representing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
The former CBN governor is also implicated in a case involving connivance with one Eric Ocheme, who is still at large, to commit forgery. Emefiele allegedly agreed to forge a document titled “Re: Presidential directive on foreign election observer missions” in January 2023.
Furthermore, Emefiele faces accusations of conferring a corrupt advantage on his wife, Omoile Margret, and brother-in-law, Omoile Macombo, by awarding a contract for the renovation of a portion of the CBN Governor’s residence in Lagos to the tune of N99.8m.
Addressing journalists after the arraignment, Emefiele’s counsel, Mathew Bukka, SAN, expressed gratitude to the trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, for allowing Emefiele to enjoy bail ahead of the trial. He acknowledged the amended charges and emphasized compliance with the rule of law.
Bukka stated, “What we have is a situation in which the state, particularly the Ministry of Justice, feels that they want to put more counts in the charge. They are entitled by law to do that. So, what they have done is to amend the charge and add more counts. For us, it is within their powers to do that. We are coming back on the 12th and 13th of February to proceed with the trial.”
The trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu, adjourned the case to February 12 and 13, 2024, for the commencement of the trial. The amended charges represent the new legal framework upon which Emefiele’s plea has been taken, marking a significant development in the ongoing legal proceedings.