Buhari, Boss Mustapha, Emefiele told CBN to pay $6,230,000 to international election observers: EFCC Witness

A Former branch controller of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ogau Onyeka Michael, has narrated how his former boss, Godwin Emefiele, asked the apex bank to illegally pay $6,230,000 to international election observers.

In his confessional statement at the resumed hearing, Mr Ogau revealed that he received a memo on January 8, 2023, requesting payment of the sum, which was already approved by Mr Emefiele.

Mr Ogau testified as the first prosecution witness for the anti-graft agency in the lawsuit against Mr Emefiele at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, Maitama, Abuja, on Monday.

He added that the memo also had an attached approval of the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and that of the then Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Disclosing this on its official handle on Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) stated that the former apex bank boss is facing “20-count amended charges bordering on corrupt advantages, conspiracy, and criminal breach of trust, forgery, and obtaining by false pretences.”

Narrating what transpired, Mr Ogau said, “My Lord, all requests for payments are usually channelled to the branch controller, and that is my office. And on that day, my Lord, the request to my office was $6,230,000, and my attention was drawn towards it by my office assistant. It came from the banking services department, and the memo carried the signature of the Director, Banking Services, with an instruction to the branch controller to pay the sum of $6,230,000 to a staff of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, bearing the name and identity card of the person.

“It stated that the payment was for election observance and should be paid cash in a naira equivalent of the said amount. It further stated that the money should be refunded in the second quarter of 2023 by the Federal Ministry of Finance. My Lord, the document also stated that, ‘find attached the approval of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the payment.

“Also, the memo had an attached approval of the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation and that of the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having gone through the document and satisfied that it met the requirement, I then minuted it to the head of the banking services unit for processing and subsequent payment. Mr. Williams, head of banking services, compiled and made the payment on April 8, 2023, and the payment was in cash. I can identify the document because it also carries my signature,” he added.

The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, while trying to tender all six documents as exhibits, told the court that two of the documents that had the former SGF and the President’s approval were a photocopy and, therefore, sought to tender the remaining four, which were original.

He, therefore, prayed the court that the remaining two be tendered later in the course of the trial while also asking the court for a 30-minute stand-down to go to the CBN complex and secure the original copies.

However, the defence counsel, Mathew Bukka, SAN, objected to Mr Oyedepo’s prayers, arguing that since the case was slated for February 12 and 13, he moved that the matter be adjourned till February 13.

According to him, the 30 minutes sought by Mr Oyedepo wouldn’t be enough for the prosecution to secure the original documents from the CBN.

Justice Hamza Muazu, therefore, adjourned the matter till February 13, 2024, for continuation of the trial.