Alleged $6.2M Fraud: Emefiele gave no directive, says CBN Deputy Director

“The money was not meant for Jubrin but for the OSGF, he was only an encasher,” he added.

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Alleged $6.2M Fraud: Emefiele gave no directive, says CBN Deputy Director
Godwin Emefiele in court

A Deputy Director and Head of the Service Delivery Division at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Michael Onyeka Ogbu, on Tuesday, told a High Court in Abuja, that the embattled former governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, never directed him to pay the sum of $6,230,000 to some international election observers prior to the 2023 general election.

 

The senior CBN official also insisted that the transaction was not fraudulent to the best of his knowledge and that the money in dispute was paid to a staff in the office of the secretary to the government of the federation.

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But former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, while giving evidence in the alleged $6.2 million fraud trial of Emefiele, denied that the government of Muhammadu Buhari or his office had anything to do with the said transaction.

 

Emefiele is standing trial on an alleged 20-count amended charge, preferred against him by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

 

A Special Investigator, Mr Jim Obazee, had late last year claimed that video footage showed Emefiele and Mustapha dragging $6.2 million cash from the vault of the CBN.

 

Findings by Obazee subsequently led the federal government to amend the criminal charge against the former CBN boss before Justice Hamza Muazu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

 

According to the new charge, Emefiele was alleged to have engaged in criminal breach of trust, forgery, conspiracy to obtain by false pretence and obtaining money by false pretence, when he served as the apex bank’s boss.

 

Among the allegations was that Emefiele forged a document titled: Re: Presidential Directive on Foreign Election Observer Missions dated January 26, 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201 and purported same to have emanated from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (AGF).

 

Emefiele was also alleged to have, on February 8, 2023 knowingly obtained, by false pretence, $6,230,000.00 by falsely representing that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation vide a letter dated January 26, 2023 with Ref No. SGF 43/L.01/201 requested the CBN to provide a contingent logistic advance in the sum of $6,230,000 “in line with Mr. President’s directive.”

 

Testifying on Monday, Ogbu said, based on the approval, the said $6.2million was paid to one, Jibrin Abubakar, nominated by the Office of the SGF to collect the allegedly meant for the payment of the foreign election observers.

 

While under cross examination earlier, Ogbu, noted that the funds were released because the request documents contained evidence of approvals by former President Buhari and Emefiele.

 

“6,230,000 was paid in cash to Jubrin Abubakar from OSGF, the money was paid in dollars,” he said, adding that he would not have paid the money without authorisation.

 

Ogbu maintained that the transaction was not a fraudulent transaction because the Director Banking Services Department was trying to recover the money.

 

According to him, payment of the fund was based on the “understanding that it would be refunded,” adding that he has written for times for the return of the money.

 

“The last letter I wrote was in November 2023. Between February and November 2023, we have made efforts to have the money back.

 

“I am aware that the defendant ceased to be CBN governor in June 2023,” he said, adding that he had made efforts to regularise the transaction.”

 

Speaking on the structure of hierarchy in the CBN, Ogbu, who pointed out that he did not report directly to the CBN governor but to the Director, Branch Operations, who in turn reported to the deputy governor operations and administration, said it was not usual for the governor to write directly to him.

 

While stating that he never paid any money to Emefiele, nor aware of the $6.2 million was traced to Emefiele’s account, he said, “He (Emefiele) did not come to tell me that I should approve the payment. I only acted on what is on the paper.

 

Recalling that he had said PD3 had approval of the governor, he admitted that, “Emefiele’s name is not on the document. He did not sign the document. What is on the document is instruction from Banking Services. My evidence yesterday was based on the document before the court.”

 

He explained that if he had not seen the signature of the Director of Banking Services he would not have authorised the payment.

 

According to him, the document showed that it was received at the office of the Director Banking Services on February 6.

 

“There is no stamp that it was received in the office of the governor. My branch has CCTV of people coming in and going out. There is a footage of where the encasher was collecting the money.

 

“I have seen the footage. It showed the officer that counted the money and gave the encasher. It also showed how the encasher left the branch hall,” he said.

 

While stating that CBN did not pay to an individual, Ogbu argued that Jubrin represented the government as “he was the person nominated by the OSGF to cash the money.

 

“He was the one mentioned in the document. He was the one authorised to collect the money. I honoured the authorisation because it came from the office of the BKSD.

 

“The money was not meant for Jubrin but for the OSGF, he was only an encasher,” he added.

 

However, speaking on the matter on Tuesday, Mustapha, who was the 5th Prosecution Witness of the federal government, denied that neither the former President Muhammadu Buhari nor himself made any demand for the payment of the election observers to the CBN.

 

While noting that it was not the practice of the presidency to make such demands, Mustapha pointed out that the responsibility of election observers was that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and not the federal government.

 

Under cross examination by Emefiele’s lawyer, Mr Mathew Burkaa, SAN, the former SGF insisted that he knew nothing about the transaction even after he left office in May 2023, adding that he only got to find out in December 2023 when the news of his alleged dragging of dollars with Emefiele went viral.

 

He added that the viral news report led him to issue a statement to immediately deny knowledge of the transaction and called for investigation in order to clear his name.

 

When shown the documents which purportedly emanated from the office of the president, the former SGF said: “on the face value of the document, I can say having served five years and seven months, this document did not emanate from the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

 

Indicating that the said documents were forged, he explained that a correspondence that carries the seal of the President of Nigeria does not carry a reference number. The seal is the authority.”

 

Besides, he argued that the Federal Executive Council (FEC’s) decisions are not transmitted by letters, but through extracts after conclusions were adopted.

 

In the purported letter from the office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha stated that although the letter bears his name, “To the best of my knowledge, the letter did not emanate from the SGF office. If it did not emanate from the SGF office, then, I did not sign it.

 

He also maintained that since he was not privy to the operation of CBN, he could not have written the governor for the attention of the Director, Banking Services.

 

Faulting the documents further, Mustapha observed that, “from mere looking at the purported letters, the headline down the contents are defective.”

 

He also pointed out that the content of the letter purported to have emanated from the presidency could not be true because there was no Federal Executive Council approval for such a thing.

 

“Looking at the signature on the purported letter that emanated from the Presidency, it is a failed attempt at reproducing President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature.

 

“Uptil the time I left office, I did not know anything about the transactions. All through my service, I did not come across the letter purported to have been written by Mr President.”

 

In addition, he claimed that being the custodian of FEC, the president would not refer FEC conclusions to him, adding also that, “In all the correspondences from the presidency, President Buhari never ended with, ‘Please, accept the assurances of my highest regards.”

 

The former SGF, who claimed to have observed two circles of election as SGF pointed out that he had never seen anywhere or documents where the federal government was responsible for election observers.

 

“Nigeria government has no business with foreign election observers. That I know as a fact because I managed two election cycles. INEC has some responsibility for them.”

 

He explained that he was yet to appear before Obazee, adding that, “I was going to do that before the hearing.”

 

While pointing out that his role at FEC was to prepare an agenda for the meeting, he stated that on the January 18, 2023 meeting, there was a 16 point agenda and there was none that had to do with payment of foreign election observers.

 

He stressed that the letter did not conform with the standard”which we wrote our letters at the office of the SGF.”

 

While denying any knowledge of one Jubrin Abubakar, who allegedly received the fund on behalf of the OSGF, Mustapha stated that he did not receive any money. “No. The amount or part of it was not brought to me.”

 

He said he made a statement and gave a specimen of his signature because he denied authorship of the letter.

 

“I will want to see anyone who committed forgery punished. I do not know who collected money and no money came to me. Jubrin is not our staff and I cannot see myself being arraigned. There is no record of him at the SGF,” he said.

 

He added that he did not receive any letter or email or call from CBN Garki branch to know about Jubrin.

Credit: Arise News