How documents in court revealed Buhari’s approval of Naira redesign, contrary to prosecution claims

...the court admitted the said documents which included the letter of the Chief of Staff to the President “conveying the president’s approval” for the redesign of the new naira notes.

How documents in court revealed Buhari’s approval of Naira redesign, contrary to prosecution claims

How documents in court revealed buhari’s approval of naira redesign, contrary to prosecution claimsThere was mild drama and confusion on Tuesday, as documents tendered by the EFCC  showed that former President Muhammadu Buhari approved the redesign of the nation’s currency in 2022.

The immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, is presently being prosecuted for redesigning the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes, allegedly without the approval of Buhari as well as that of the Board of Directors (BoD) of the CBN.

According to Arise TV reports, to prove its case against Emefiele, the anti-graft agency had on May 28, called a former Director of Currency Operations at the CBN, Mr. Ahmed Bello Umar.

Emefiele: New bid on seizure of assets by EFCC coming after losing Order Of Final Forfeiture On $4.7 Million, ₦830m, Properties in another court

At the last proceedings, Umar who was the First Prosecution Witness (PW1), had narrated how the management of the apex bank directed his department (Currency Operations) to, “come up with a memo on the redesign of the naira notes sometimes in August 22, 2022”.

However, at the resumed trial on Tuesday, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, moved to tender through the witnesses documents relating to the prosecution of the case.

When he mentioned a letter of approval by the former president for the redesign of the currency, the court could not help but ask if the charge against Emefiele was that he did not get the approval of the president for the redesign.

However, following the non-objection of the defence, the court admitted the said documents which included the letter of the Chief of Staff to the President “conveying the president’s approval” for the redesign of the new naira notes.

The letter was dated October 13, 2022.

Also tendered was another letter dated October 6, 2022, from Emefiele, “seeking approval”, for the redesign, which the witness admitted was granted on page 11, and also has the president’s signature.

The EFCC tendered two documents on the approval of the redesign which they claimed one was approved by Emefiele and the other by former President Buhari.

According to Umar the new notes produced by Emefiele were different from the one approved by Buhari in terms of QR Code, the positioning of portraits and the numbering style.

Under cross examination by Emefiele’s lawyer, Mr. Mamud Magaji, the witness, who admitted that Buhari approved the redesigning of the new notes, admitted he supervised their distribution across the 37 branches of the apex bank.

The witness also disclosed that as Director of Currency, he signed the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes alongside the former CBN boss.

Umar, although said he was not at the launch of the new notes by Buhari, admitted watching the launch on television.

Also testifying, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company Plc, Mr, Ahmed Halilu, who admitted working closely with the CBN on the naira redesign, stated that when he met with Emefiele over the redesign of the new notes, he told the former CBN boss that the federal government’s press does not have the, “capacity, capability and machinery” to embarked on the project.

“We noticed a lot of changes at the printing level. Some of the changes have to do with the numbering system, production of QR Code and repositioning of the watermarks on the backup paper.

“We suggested to the CBN that to enable us properly produce the currency, we should engage De La Rue of the United Kingdom, the original designers of the currency,” he said.

“As at the time it was impossible to implement by way of production what has been designed”, he added.

Halilu, further disclosed that De La Rue in responding submitted two options which he submitted to the CBN for consideration and approval.

He said one of the options was later given to them for production, adding that a cost of £205,000 was later paid by CBN.

Under cross examination, the witness however disclosed that the cost of printing the new naira notes was the same as printing the old notes.

“My Lord, the unit cost of the old currency and the new remains the same,” he said.

Halilu, who also disclosed that the printing of the new notes was done 100 per cent locally, noted that there was very little difference between the sample approved by Buhari and that designed by De La Rue.

Besides, he stated that he met severally with the Director of Currency and the former CBN governor “to avoid any mistake in the final production.”

The witness in addition admitted that the said difference between what Buhari approved and what was printed, was only noticed after production.

Responding to questions on Buhari’s approval, the NSPMC boss admitted that the former President never consulted him on the redesign of the naira.

He also agreed with Magaji that all the approvals by Buhari were channeled to the former CBN boss.

He also admitted that the naira after the redesign was “fit and proper for use”.

He also confirmed that the currency in circulation were the ones unveiled at the launch by the former president.

The EFCC had on May 15, arraigned Emefiele on four-count charge before Justice Maryanne Anenih of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

Emefiele, however, denied the charge and was admitted to bail in the sum of N300 million.

In the four-count charge, the anti-graft agency claimed that Emefiele embarked on the naira redesign without the approval of the Board of the CBN as well as then President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Specifically, the EFCC is accusing Emefiele of approving the printing of various quantities of the new Naira notes, “without the recommendation of the Board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you thereby committed an offence.”

While in count one he was accused of approving the printing of 375,520,000 notes at the cost of N11 billion, in count two he was accused of approving the printing of 172 million coloured swapped N500 notes at the cost of N4.4 billion.

Also in count three, the former CBN boss was alleged to have approved for printing 137,070, pieces of coloured N200 notes at the cost of N3.4 billion.

He was, however, in count four alleged to have withdrawn the sum of N124, 860, 227, from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation in a manner not prescribed by the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned to September 19 for continuation of trial.