An FCT High Court sitting in Maitama on Friday, fixed February 12 for the trial of suspended Central Bank Governor (CBN) Godwin Emefiele over alleged procurement fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged Mr Emefiele with 20 amended counts of criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage and breach of trust among others.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.
Following Emefiele’s plea, and the prayer of his counsel, Matthew Burkaa, for him to remain on his existing bail condition, Justice Hamza Muazu granted it.
Justice Muazu then adjourned until February 13 for commencement of trial since the prosecution did not object to the prayer.
In some of the amended charges EFCC, alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document titled: “Re: Presidential Directive on Foreign Election Observer Missions,” dated January 26, 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.
The EFCC alleged that Emefiele made the claim knowing same to be false.
According to the amended charge marked CR/577/2023, 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 SGF “vide a letter dated Jan. 26 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.”
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 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, also, sections 315, 363 and 364 of the penal code.
The anti-graft agency had in August, first charged Emefiele and one Sa’adatu Yaro and a company, April 1616 Investment Ltd, purported to belong to Mrs. Yaro, on alleged breach of the Procurement Act in respect of the purchase of some vehicles.
However, the arraignment could not go on because of the reported ill health of Yaro.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, on November 28 drew the attention of the court to an amended charge dated November 8, 2023.
In that charge, Emefiele was the sole defendant and the charges reduced from 20 to six, to which Emefiele pleaded not guilty.
Justice Muazu on November 22, 2023, granted him bail in the sum of N300 million.
Muazu in addition, ordered two sureties in the like sum of N300 million who must have property in Maitama District of Abuja.
The sureties must in addition present the title documents and certificates of occupancy (C of O) to the court for verification.
The judge further added that Emefiele should submit to the Registrar of the Court his travelling documents and must be within Abuja within the period of his trial.
The judge, however, granted him leave yesterday to travel outside FCT not abroad.
Earlier, his counsel Barkka, objected to the reading of the charge, according to him ‘the charge was franked’ against the provisions of 221 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. 2015.(ACJA).
Counsel for the prosecution, Oyedepo, responded by citing, that section 396 (ACJA) said the defendant should be allowed to take his plea first before an objection.
The judge, however, reserved ruling on that, which he said would be according to section 396 of ACJA.
He added that the objection from the defendant could be taken any time.