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Nigeria: Sacked central bank governor Godwin Emefiele faces new charges

Godwin Emefiele, Former Central Bank governor, leaves after a court hearing at the Federal High Court in Lagos Nigeria, Tuesday, July 25, 2023.   -  
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Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


**State prosecutors in Nigeria, Africa's largest economy have added 14 new criminal charges against Godwin Emefiele former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in what is the most high-profile corruption case under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. **

The new charges come in light of a report by a presidential team set up to investigate alleged wrongdoings at the Nigeria's apex bank.

According to media reports, the special investigator probing the Central Bank, found the former CBN Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele and others to have embezzled $1.3m and committed other financial offences.

Mr. Emefiele presided over the affairs of the central bank for nine years, before being forced to resign last year following his arrest. On Thursday, state prosecutors told a judge in the capital Abuja that the new charges against the former CBN chief included "forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery and felony, procurement fraud and criminal breach of trust".

"He will be indicted on Friday on the amended charges when he is also expected to enter a plea" acccording to Nigeria's anti grafft body Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo. 

Matthew Burkaa, one of Emefiele's lawyers said he would need some time to study the new charges before any plea could be made.

After five months in detention, Emefiele who has not commented publicly on his prosecution was granted bail in December. 

The bail which then restricted his movements within the capital Abuja was on Thursday amended to include any travel outside Abuja and within the country.

The new charges he faces is in addition and amendment to those slammed against him in November by the EFCC on six counts of fraud involving a sum of 1.2bn naira ($1.3m, £1.1m).

Emefiele, 62 was one of the Nigeria's most powerful persons under president Muhammadu Buhari. The disgraced former bank chief made an unprecedented run for presidency and oversaw a much-criticised system of multiple exchange rates used to keep the local currency Naira artificially strong.

Also, his brazen-faced policy of redesigning of the Naira cast a shadow of doubt on his sincerity and that of former president Buhari especially as it concerned the presidential aspiration and candidacy of Bola Tinubu. 

Millions of Nigerians reportedly groaned under the controversial naira swap policy effected few weeks before the general elections.

Many accused the former central bank chief of orchestrating the currency redesign plan to prevent politicians from having access to funds needed for campaign and potential buying of voters.

Former President Buhari said the policy to redesign the high-value currency notes will help the economy deal with currency counterfeiting, excess cash in circulation and address inflation.

Analysts believe that this was far from achieved as the policy triggered instead economic disruption that led to chaos in the polity for both urban and rural dwellers who found it difficult to dispose of the old notes and acquire new ones.

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