$6.2m Emefiele Loot: Top INEC, Presidency Officials Indicted as Pressure Mounts on Tinubu to Sack Obazee

$6.2m Emefiele Loot: Top INEC, Presidency Officials Indicted as Pressure Mounts on Tinubu to Sack Obazee

Top officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Presidency, including cabinet members in the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have been fingered as beneficiaries of the $6.2 million windfall allegedly shared with some Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) by former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The money was taken from the CBN vault in the name of mobilising international observers for the 2023 general elections “and allegedly shared with the top Officials of the State House, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and others.

Economic Confidential gathered from high-level, authoritative sources that most of the beneficiaries of the ‘loot’ have been made to refund their share since the present administration beamed its searchlight on the transaction and others.

One of the sources said that the clampdown on the series of corrupt practices allegedly perpetrated by some officials of the immediate past administration is mind-boggling. she added that some earth-shaking revelations, including footage, will come up soon.

Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Committee, which probed the CBN and recommended Emefiele for prosecution, has been criticised and recommended for disbandment by some powerful forces in the corridors of power.

Another credible source familiar with the developments told Economic Confidential that the Chairman of the Committee, Jim Obazee, has stepped on powerful toes, and his uncompromising nature may result in his firing.

The source alleged that some influential people have urged the President to sack Obazee and dissolve the committee after his investigations and recommendations affected their interests.

“Obazee has stepped on powerful toes, and the pressure on the President to remove him or even dissolve the committee is serious. Some people even believe he has completed his task and there is no need to retain him. Both the President and Obazee have refused to budge under pressure as they want to go deeper into the CBN rot. I have no idea how long the duo will hold on.”

The Committee was put together by President Tinubu, who appointed Mr Obazee as the Chairman as part of measures to fortify Government Business Entities (GBEs).

Since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu suspended him last year, Emefiele has been facing a series of litigations in different courts bordering on abuse of office, misappropriation, round tripping, etc.

Onyeka Ogbu, a deputy director of branch operations at the Bank, testified against Emefiele at the FCT High Court recently. She alleges that the accused got the approval of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari and ex-SGF Boss Mustapha for the disbursement of $6,230,000 “to international election observers.”

The witness said the banking services department “brought to my attention on February 8, 2023, a request for payment of $6,230,000.”

“When I received the document, I found it was from the Banking Services Department.

“The director of banking services signed the memo, which contained an instruction for the Branch Controller to pay $6,230,000 to a staff member of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, with the identity and name of the person mentioned.

“The memo said the payment was for international election observers and that we should debit an Naira Forex Account with the naira equivalent of $6,230,000.

“The memo also stated that the Federal Ministry of Finance will refund the money in the second quarter of 2023.

“It went on to say, ‘Find attached the approval of the governor of the CBN for the payment.’

“The attachment had the approval of the governor of the CBN. It also had the approval of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the request letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“Having gone through the documents and satisfied, I minuted on it and sent for processing and disbursement, which was complied with,” he said during cross-examination.

The witness said whether the money was released: “Payment was eventually made. The $6,230,000 was paid on the 8th of February, 2023. The payment was in cash.”

The EFCC is, however, alleging that Emefiele forged General Buhari’s signature and never got the former President’s approval for the transaction.

Emefiele was suspended on June 9, 2023, by President Tinubu, who also ordered a probe into his tenure as CBN governor.

On January 18, the federal government amended the criminal charges filed against the former CBN governor.

The charges, formerly six counts, were increased to 20 counts.

The amended charges include alleged criminal breach of trust, forgery, conspiracy to commit forgery, procurement fraud, and conspiracy to commit a felony.

In some of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document titled: “RE: PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE ON FOREIGN ELECTION OBSERVER MISSIONS,” dated 26 January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.

The EFCC said Emefiele made the claim despite knowing it to be false and committed an offence contrary to section 1(1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.

According to the amended charge marked CR/577/2023, Emefiele, on February 8, 2023, connived with one Odoh Ocheme, who is now on the run, to obtain $6.2m from the CBN, claiming that the SGF requested it “via a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.″

Economic Confidential