By Daniel Edu
The suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and his associates are set to be arraigned by the Federal Government on Thursday for alleged involvement in a N6.9 billion procurement fraud. The arraignment will take place at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja.
The charges cover a range of allegations including procurement fraud, conspiracy, and conferring corrupt advantages. Emefiele, along with Sa’adatu Yaro, a female CBN employee, and her company April1616 Investment Limited, faces a total of 20 charges related to these offenses.
The charges stem from accusations that Emefiele, who has been in detention since his suspension on June 9 by President Bola Tinubu, conferred corrupt advantages upon Yaro, a director at April 1616 Investment Ltd. The allegations are in violation of section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
If found guilty, Emefiele could potentially face a prison sentence of five years without the possibility of a fine.
The charges, signed by officials from the Federal Ministry of Justice including the Director of Public Prosecutions Mohammed Abubakar, detail the alleged purchase of a fleet of over 98 luxury vehicles and armored buses valued at approximately N6.9 billion between 2018 and 2020. The vehicles include 84 Toyota Hilux vehicles, 10 armored Mercedes Benz buses, three Toyota Land Cruisers, and one Toyota Avalon car.
Emefiele is accused of using his position as CBN Governor to award contracts and confer corrupt advantages on Yaro and her company, among other charges. The charges also implicate other individuals and companies involved in the alleged procurement fraud.
The trial is expected to involve testimonies from witnesses including officials from the CBN and the Ministry of Justice. Separately, in a related matter, a Federal High Court in Lagos is considering an application to withdraw illegal firearms possession charges against Emefiele. The defense has argued against the oral application for withdrawal, emphasizing the need for proper legal procedures.
As the legal proceedings continue, the case has garnered significant attention due to its implications on matters of corruption and governance in Nigeria.