Alleged Procurement Fraud: Court sets date for Emefiele’s trial

Alleged Procurement Fraud: Court sets date for Emefiele’s trial


The FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja, on Friday, fixed 12 February for the opening of the prosecution’s case in the trial of the suspended Central Bank Governor (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on procurement fraud charges.

The judge, Hamza Muazu, fixed the date for the commencement of trial after Mr Emefiele pleaded not guilty to the amended 20 counts filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency had charged him with amended 20 counts of criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage, and breach of trust, among others, all of which he denied on Friday.

Mr Emefiele was previously charged with six counts and first arraigned on 28 November 2023, before the EFCC filed the amended charges necessitating a re-arraignment.

The commission, in the amendment of the charges, increased the number of counts from six to 20, and dropped a former co-defendant’s name, Sa’adatu Yaro, from the case.

EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), earlier announced in court on Thursday that he had served the amended charges on Mr Emefiele.

But the former CBN governor’s lawyer, Matthew Burkaa, a SAN, asked for time to study the charges, a request the judge granted.

The judge also granted a request permitting Mr Emefiele to travel out of Abuja, the federal capital, but not outside Nigeria during the trial.

The judge then fixed Friday for the re-arraignment of the defendant.

At the arraignment on Friday, Mr Emefiele pleaded not guilty when the 20 counts were read to him.

In some of the counts, EFCC alleged that Mr Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document titled, ‘Re: Presidential Directive on Foreign Election Observer Missions,’ dated January 2023 with reference number, SGF.43/L.01/201.

The EFCC alleged that Mr Emefiele made the claim knowing the same to be false.

In the case marked CR/577/2023, the prosecution alleged Mr Emefiele, on 8 February 2023, connived with one Odoh Ocheme, said to be on the run, to obtain $6.2 million from the CBN, claiming that it was requested by the office of the Secretary to the Governor of the Federation (SGF) “vide a letter dated Jan. 26 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.”

The anti-graft agency also 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 Ltd, “wherein the duo are directors and majority shareholders.”

The offences, according to the EFCC, contravened the provisions of sections 17, and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, as well as sections 315, 363 and 364 of the Penal Code.

The anti-graft agency had, in August, first charged Mr Emefiele alongside Sa’adatu Yaro and a company, April 1616 Investment Ltd, with alleged breach of the Procurement Act in respect of the purchase of some vehicles.

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