Fraud: More Troubles For Emefiele, Remanded In EFCC, Custody

By Lateef Aegbite

 Godwin Emefiele, immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who was born and bred in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre had expected to return to his country home in Agbor, Delta state, to live a quiet life after the hassle –bustling life of Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to direct the affairs of the CBN, between 2014 and July 2023, but got it wrong.

This is because of the landmines that had been   set for him  by Jim Obazee, a former Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of  the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN, and  who had had headed the Special Investigation Team, that had uncovered lots of  financial illegalities   around the office of the former   CBN governor and  other relevant government agencies. That had roped him in for trial in a Federal High Court in Abuja or Lagos.

 Ever since, he was removed from office on July 3, 2023 by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state and arrested by Yusuf Majaji Birchi led Department of State Services, DSS, operatives,  he has been shuttling between the DSS custody in Abuja,  and  the Abuja High Court, which AbdiHakeem Labi-Lawal, his Lawyer, had said he has never ’’missed   his hearing dates to answer the allegations against him’’, describing him as’’ not being a flight risk’’ who should be granted bail.

Emefiele’s troubles   may have started all over again with the submission of the Osazee, the Special Investigator’s report to the Presidency, on Sunday, April 1, 2024, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Ola Olukoyede, had prepared 26 fresh charges against him and dragged him, including abuse of office at the Lagos High court which had ordered that he should be remanded in EFCC, custody and not the DSS custody.

Emefiele, former CBN, governor in Lagos High Court,ordered to be remanded in EFCC custody

Recall that the erstwhile CBN  governor , who is currently being tried in a Lagos High  Court  based on the findings of Osazee, led  Special Investigating team , around the governor’s office had discovered that  from June , 2014 to June ,2023,  that Emefiele  had engaged in fraudulent cash withdrawal of  $6.23 billion by allegedly forging  a cheque  from the Nigerian President   and perpetrated a fraud  in the redesign   of the N200, N500 and N1000 bANK Notes.

The Delta state Banker was said to have also   kept   £543.4 million pounds in United Kingdom Banks without the approval and Knoledge of  for President Muhammadu Buhari. He was said to have also  allocated the sum of $2,136,391,737.33 , without bids  to firms   which the EFCC, Authorities had said  is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.

The Senate ad-hoc Committee probing the CBN , the disbursement  and usage  of the N30 trillion  Ways  and Means  loan to the government  from the apex Bank  , were said to have discovered  illegalities  in the loan  approval process under  Emefiele, which was said to be a bad advertisement to the Bank. The Delta state Banker was said to have signed and disbursed billions of naira in different tranches of the loan without following due process in 13 documents.

  The anti-graft agency may have taken advantage of the submission of the Osazee’s report  to take another look at  the apex Bank  2004, circular to the  MDBs,  signed by  Ibrahim  Mu’azu,  a –one time  Director , Corporate  Communications  of the Bank which  was said to have been drawn and released to the Banks on Monday, April 2, 2024.

Mu’azu, the then CBN Director of Communications had said that some institutions price their goods and services in foreign currencies   rather than the naira, which is the country’s legal tender. He had alluded to the CBN Act of 2007, which had  stated that ‘’currency Notes issued by the apex Bank shall be the legal tender in Nigeria for the payment of goods and services’’ and offenders  shall be liable on conviction in Court ’’to a prescribed fine or six months imprisonment or both ’’.

The circular which   was said to have been reproduced and signed a by one Adetona Adedeji, the apex Bank, Director, Banking Supervision Department and uploaded to the Bank’s website on Monday, April 2, 2024, may have given room to the anti-graft agency to expedite  action to try  the former CBN , governor, by taking his case to a Lagos High Court.

 Recall that the CBN Authorities  had directed  all  the MDBs, whose Customers use the  forex as collateral for naira loans  ‘’ to trim all such existing loans  within 90 days,  or attract ‘’ a 150% capital adequacy ratio  computation  as part of the bank risk’’.

The apex Bank  had said that the only  Bank Customers who  could use  foreign currency  as collateral for loans  are those who  had collected  ‘’Eurobonds issued  by the Nigerian government  or guarantees  of foreign banks  and standby Letters of Credit ,LC’’.

Eurobonds, according to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC, are bonds issued offshore by governments or corporate organizations denominated in a currency other than that of the issuer’s country. The Asian country of China Bank which had described Eurobonds as ‘’long-term debt instruments   had said that they are ‘’typically denominated in US dollars’’.

Letters of Credit, LC, going by the definition of the International Trade Administration, are contractual commitments by the foreign buyer’s bank to pay once the exporter   ships the goods and presents the required documentation to the exporter’s bank for proof. It noted that the LC, are designed’’ to protect both the exporter and importer involved in the international trade’’.

The CBN directive, according to financial analysts  underscores  the Bank’s   commitment  to regulating  and monitoring  banking  activities to safeguard   the interests of customers  and maintain  financial stability  in the country’s banking sector  and ensuring compliance  with regulatory standards.

The Bank was said to have also urged the MDBs, to take immediate   steps to ensure compliance by the customers with the new order and seek clarifications or assistance from the apex Bank, if need to resolve all dark areas.    

The CBN Authorities may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when it stated that ‘’it is on a mission  to ensure  that there  is adequate  foreign exchange  in the country’s Autonomous Foreign  exchange market  to strengthen the naira.

Naira regaining value in both the official and parallel foreign exchange market

 Note that in the last one week, the naira has gained sharply against the US, dollar, at both the official and parallel markets after suffering its second devaluation in less than one year in the month of January, 2024, from the government on the advice of Olayemi Michael Cardoso led CBN.The naira may have been strengthened after the CBN Authorities raised interest rates between February and March and shifted restrictions on foreign participations at fixed- income auctions.

Determined to further strengthen  the naira to  other world major currencies at the country’s FEM ,  the CBN , appears set to sell US, $16 million through the Bureau de’change , BDCs, operators  in this week’s intervention  and another foreign reserves  , US $I.I billion  in the next three weeks  to encourage the Banks to wind down on the naira loans  -backed by  forex colaterals within the next 90 days that had been set by the regulatory Authority.

 The policy, according to an insider had said is’’ to further stress test  banks- Multinational business relations,, which had said  may see the naira on the course  of regaining  N1000.00 to the  one US  dollar , if the current momentum of releasing more forex into the market is sustained.     

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