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Setback For Emefiele as N6.9 Billion Fraud Case is Adjourned

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, encountered a delay in court proceedings on Thursday as the scheduled fraud case, in which he is a co-defendant alongside Sa’adatu Ramalan-Yaro, was postponed due to her absence.

In a visibly emotional moment, a broken Emefiele was seen being consoled by his legal team following the adjournment. This marked a stark contrast to his previous position of influence during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari, when he seemed almost untouchable.

Emefiele and Ramalan-Yaro, identified in the charges as a CBN staff member, are facing allegations of conspiracy and procurement fraud involving a substantial sum of N6.9 billion.

On July 25, Emefiele was arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos on charges related to the “illegal possession” of firearms and live ammunition but in a recent development, the government has moved to withdraw the firearms possession charges against him.

The absence of Ramalan-Yaro disrupted the planned arraignment of Emefiele and his co-defendant on twenty counts of procurement fraud at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja. Although Ramalan-Yaro was represented by her lawyer, she was unable to attend due to health reasons. This situation unfolded before Judge Hamzat Muazu of the Maitama Division of the FCT High Court.

Upon entering the defendant’s box, Emefiele’s legal counsel, Akinlolu Kehinde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), requested a brief private consultation with his client, a request that was granted. Acknowledging the professionalism displayed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mohammed Abubakar, throughout the proceedings, Kehinde commended his approach.

Ramalan-Yaro’s lawyer, Abdulhakeem Labi-Lawal, also concurred with the need for an adjournment.

Emefiele and Ramalan-Yaro stand accused, along with her company April 1616 Investment Limited, of engaging in corrupt activities. The charges specifically point to Emefiele providing improper benefits to Ramalan-Yaro through her company, resulting in procurement fraud related to the acquisition of luxury vehicles and armored buses totaling approximately N6.9 billion.

The alleged corrupt transactions occurred between 2018 and 2020, as outlined in the charges.

Emefiele has been in custody since June 10, following his suspension from office by President Bola Tinubu. The charges brought against him fall under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, carrying a potential five-year prison sentence upon conviction.

President Bola Tinubu suspended Emefiele from his role as CBN governor on June 9. Subsequently, on June 10, the State Security Service (SSS) apprehended Emefiele in Lagos and transferred him to their headquarters in Abuja for questioning and has remained in SSS custody since then.

Ramalan-Yaro, his co-defendant, was taken into custody alongside her husband, Aminu Yaro, on July 12 and has also been detained.

While the FCT High Court had issued an order for the release of the couple on July 25, this directive was not adhered to. It was only on July 13 that the SSS formally filed firearms charges against Emefiele, over a month after his initial arrest.

 

 

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