The trial of suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele began on Tuesday in an FCT high court, with the EFCC calling three witnesses.
The EFCC charged Emefiele with six counts of alleged breach of procurement procedure in the award of the contract to April1616 Investment Limited.
The anti-graft agency had in August, first charged Emefiele and one Sa’adatu Yaro and a company, April 1616 Investment Limited, purported to belong to 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.
Still, when the matter was called on Friday, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, drew the attention of the Court to an amended charge dated November 8, 2023.
In the new charge, Emefiele was the sole defendant and the charge reduced from 20 to six, to which Emefiele pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed trial, the first prosecution witness (PW 1) Shamsudeen Abulili testified
The witness, an officer of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) gave evidence on how the company April 1616 Investment Limited was incorporated on August 1, 2016 with RC : 1350837and tendered several documents on how the company was floated.
He read out before the Court names of the shareholders of the Company which comprised Aminu Idris Yaro, with 500,000 shares, Maryam Aliyu Abdullahi, 350,000 and Saadatu Yaro , 150, 000.
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He said the total share was 1 million at N1 each.
Led in evidence by EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo , SAN the witness said that Emefiele’s name was not in anyway connected with the company.
The witness explained that although CAC was responsible for incorporation of the company, it however has no role in the day to day running of affairs of the entity.
The second witness, Remigious Ugwu, a Compliance Officer with Zenith Bank told the court on how various sums of money in millions of naira were paid by the CBN into the April1616 Investment Limited.
Specifically, he told the Court how on October 19, 2020, a sum of N39, 060, 465; another N421, 953, 488 on November 6, 2020 and the third one N304, 883, 720 was paid on November 23, 2020 to the same company by CBN.
Similarly, he said that N304, 883, 720 was paid on January 1, 2021 and another N304, 883, 720 paid by the same company on March 23, 2021 by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He admitted that none of the payments has any link with Emefiele’s name while also that he did not know the purpose of the payments.
The witness who tendered various documents on behalf of the bank said that the former CBN governor was not a signatory to the bank account of the company.
The third witness, Oluwole Owoeye, a Deputy Director, Banking Services with CBN and former Secretary to Major Contract Tendering Committee MCTC of the CBN said that his body was responsible for ensuring of compliance with Procurement Act told the court by CBN in the award of contracts.
When cross examined by Emefiele ‘s counsel, Matthew Burkaa, SAN, Owoeye informed the Court that his committee was not involved in the vetting of bidding for the award of contracts that led to prosecution of Emefiele.
The witness explained that another committee handled the bidding because it was above the thresholds of his own Committee
”My Lord, all I know is through our records is that contracts for award of vehicle supplies were awarded to April1616 but I cannot say whether the contracts were executed or paid for because my Committee played no role”
He admitted that MCTC and Procurement Department were fully functional while Emefiele held sway as CBN Governor.
After listening to the testimonies , Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned until January 18 and January 19 2023.
The suspended CBN Governor was accused of conferring corrupt advantages on a staff of CBN, Yaro through awards of vehicle supply contracts worth over N1.2 bn contrary to section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.