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Emefiele: Explanation Behind $6.2m Payment Revealed by CBN Director



By Grace Chigbu


In a recent development, Michael Onyeka Ogbu, a deputy director at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), shed light on the rationale behind the release of $6,230,000 to international election observers preceding last year’s general election. Ogbu, who currently heads the Service Delivery Division at the CBN, clarified that the funds were disbursed based on documented approvals by the then President Muhammadu Buhari and former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele.

This revelation emerged during Ogbu’s testimony as a prosecution witness in the trial of the former CBN governor, who faces a 20-count amended charge filed by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). Emefiele is accused of various offenses including criminal breach of trust, forgery, conspiracy to obtain by false pretense, and obtaining money by false pretense.

According to the amended charge, Emefiele allegedly forged a document, purportedly originating from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), directing the CBN governor to provide a contingent logistic advance of $6,230,000 for foreign election observer missions. Ogbu testified that he served as the Branch Controller until his redeployment in September last year and recalled receiving a payment request on February 8, 2023.

After scrutinizing the documents and confirming the necessary approvals, Ogbu facilitated the processing and payment of the requested sum. He confirmed that the payment, made in cash, was executed on September 8, 2023. During the trial, Ogbu identified several documents supporting the transaction, including payment slips, memos from the Banking Services Department authorizing the payment, and requests for the Governor’s approval.

However, a hiccup arose during the trial when some of the documents presented were found to be improperly certified. Despite a plea from the prosecution to tender the documents with a promise to replace them with properly certified copies later, the defense lawyer, Matthew Burkaa (SAN), objected. Burkaa argued against granting a 30-minute stand-down to certify the documents, deeming it unfeasible for the prosecution to complete the certification within the given timeframe.

In light of the disagreement, Justice Hamza Muazu, the presiding judge, opted for an adjournment to allow sufficient time for the prosecution to rectify the certification issue. Consequently, the trial is set to resume on February 13, facilitating further proceedings in the case.

The ongoing trial underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in financial transactions, particularly within regulatory institutions like the CBN. As the legal proceedings unfold, stakeholders await a comprehensive resolution that upholds the integrity of the banking sector and ensures justice is served.

Stay tuned for updates as the trial progresses.

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