June 11, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Emefiele stands court down in N6.9bn fraud case

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court judge  has adjourned hearing in the Federal Government’s fresh N6.9bn procurement fraud case against suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele for the second time.

The case that was adjourned by vacation judge, Justice Hamza Muazu last week was not listed on the court’s cause list as it resumed August 23, 2023.

It was gathered at the courtroom that the arraignment was shifted at the instance of the detained former CBN chief.

According to reports, Emefiele and his co-accused, Mrs. Sa’adat Ramalan-Yaro, have opted for plea bargaining to settle with the Federal Government.

Emefiele’s lawyer Kehinde Akinlolu (SAN) confirmed the shift in the arraignment. He said that a new date would be issued by FCT Chief Judge, Hussein Baba Yusuf.

At press time yesterday, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), who always escorted him to court, and members of Emefiele’s legal team were absent.

Recall that Emefiele was charged alongside Ramalan-Yaro and her company, April 1616 Investment Ltd.

Emefiele and Ramalan-Yaro, described in the charge as a CBN staff member, were accused of conspiracy and procurement fraud involving as much as N6.9 billion.

The charges alleged that Mr. Emefiele conferred corrupt advantages on Ramalan-Yaro, using her firm, April 1616 Investment.

Government also alleged that the defendants perpetrated procurement fraud through the award of contracts to Mrs. Ramalan-Yaro’s company for the supply of cars.

The defendants, allegedly through the corrupt transactions, purchased a fleet of about 100 posh vehicles and armoured buses worth about N6.9 billion.

The alleged corrupt transactions took place between 2018 and 2020, according to the charges.

Mr. Emefiele has been in the custody of the DSS since June 10, a day after President Bola Tinubu suspended the nation’s chief banker from office.

Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, under which he was charged, provides a five-year jail sentence upon conviction.

“Any public officer who uses his office or position to gratify or confer any corrupt or unfair advantage upon himself or any relation or associate of the public officer or any other public officer shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for five years without an option of fine,” the law stipulates.

President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele as CBN governor on June 9; the next day, SSS operatives picked him up in Lagos and flew him to its headquarters in Abuja for interrogation.

Emefiele has since remained in SSS custody. His co-defendant in the fresh case, Mrs. Ramalan-Yaro, who was arrested alongside her husband, Aminu Yaro, on July 12, is also still in custody.

The FCT High Court had ordered the release of the couple on July 25 but the order was not complied with.

It took another order of the court on July 13, more than a month after the arrest, for the SSS to file the firearms charges against Mr. Emefiele.

Subsequently, on July 25, the SSS arraigned him before the Federal High Court in Lagos on two charges of “illegal possession” of firearms and live ammunition.

The government last week Tuesday applied to have the firearms possession charges against Mr. Emefiele dropped.