The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday, April 12, 2024, presented its first prosecution witness, PW1, Monday Osazuwa, a Senior Supervisor with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in the trial of a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele and one Henry Omeile.

Emefiele and  Omoile were arraigned by the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC on Monday, April 8, 2024, on an amended 26-count charge bordering on alleged $4.5bn and N2.8bn fraud.

The former CBN Governor was specifically mentioned in counts one to four as well as  counts eight to 26 bordering on alleged abuse of office, contrary and punishable under Section 73 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011; accepting gratification, contrary and punishable under Section 8 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000; corrupt demand, contrary and punishable under Section 10 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000; receiving property fraudulently obtained, contrary to and punishable under Section 328 of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011; and conferring corrupt advantage, contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

Omoile was mentioned in counts five, six and seven bordering on acceptance of gifts by agents, contrary to Section 65 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, between 2022 and 2023 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, directed to be done in abuse of the authority of your office as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, an arbitrary act, to wit: allocating foreign exchange in the aggregate sum of $2,136,391,737.33 without bids, which act is prejudicial to the rights of Nigerians.”

They pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges when they were read to them.

At the resumed sitting on Friday,  Osazuwa, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, testified that he knew Emefiele from his time at Zenith Bank before becoming the CBN Governor.

The PW1 said: “I worked with him from 2002 to 2014 at Zenith Bank; and then, 2014 to 2023 at the CBN.”

In his examination-in-chief, he also testified that “ I also ran errands for him. 

“Sometime in 2020, he called me, while he was outside of Lagos, that he would give me a number to call and that I had something to collect for him.

“The person confirmed the same and gave me another number that it was his boy who would give me.”

He identified the first person as Mohit, who gave him the number of his boy, whom he identified as Mr. Raja.

Continuing, he said : “So, I got there at Adeola Odeku and he welcomed me. I sat down and waited, as he brought the thing and gave me an envelope. 

“I said “What is in it?” , and Raja brought it out and counted it. Then, I sealed it back.”

He further testified that the envelope contained $100,000 and that Emefiele was not around at the time. 

“So, he instructed me to give it to the second defendant for him.

“That was not the end, as after a few weeks’ interval,  he said I should call Mohit, if he had anything. 

“Then, again ,I collected the money and they were not the same amount. 

“The first defendant said I should be finding out every Friday from Mohit if he had anything to give him.”

He also testified that he was sometimes instructed by Emefiele to deposit cheques in the account of Dumies Oil and Gas. 

According to him, the second defendant resides in Emefiele’s  house in Ikoyi, Lagos. 

He said: “The highest money I collected from Mr. Raja was $1 million, and all the money was in cash. 

“There was also $850,000, $750,000, and $400,000.

“I never took anything out of the money. He trusts me. He never said to me that I should take out of it.”

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, A. Labi-Lawal, he reiterated that he only acted on the instruction of Emefiele. 

Earlier in the proceedings, the Judge granted Emefiele bail in the sum of N50 million, with two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must be within the jurisdiction of the court, with evidence of three years tax payment in Lagos.

The second defendant, Omoile, was also granted bail in the sum of N1 million, with two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must be blood relations of the defendant, with evidence of three years tax payment. 

In granting him bail, the court adopted the bail earlier granted to the defendant by Justice Sule Hamzat. 

“The bail documents must be transmitted to this court,” Justice Oshodi added.

Labi-Lawal then applied for an interim bail, releasing the first defendant to the defence, pending perfection of the bail.

Oyedepo prayed the court for accelerated hearing, and for “in camera” proceedings for the first to seventh witnesses, “because of their safety”.

Responding, Labi-Lawal raised no objections to the prosecutor’s prayer for accelerated hearing, but raised objections to the prayer for in camera proceedings for the said witnesses.

“The prosecution has not substantiated their claim, and so we want a formal application,” Labi-Lawal said.

However, Oyedepo, argued that: “All we want is the protection of these witnesses, and I believe justice is what we are supposed to be seeking”.

Thereafter, Justice Oshodi granted the prayer for accelerated hearing and ordered that a formal application for closed door session of proceedings be filed.

“I adjourn the hearing of this application till April 29, 2024 and I direct that the hearing will be in closed session,” he said.

Granting the prayer of the defence for interim bail, Justice Oshodi further ordered that the defence counsel should file an undertaking to produce the defendant on the next date.

“The first defendant will be remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre pending the undertaking by the defence counsel, which I must see,” Justice Oshodi said.

Oyedepo then told the court that a witness of the prosecution was in court and “we are ready to proceed in open court.”

The defence, however, argued that it was not prepared for commencement of trial.

He further argued that he was yet to have access to his client to go through the proof of evidence and the allegations, as Emefiele had been in the custody of the EFCC.

Justice Oshodi, however, held that the court had, on April 8, 2024, adjourned for trial, and so “request by the defence counsel is refused.”

 He also adjourned  the matter till April 29, May 3, 9 and 17, 2024 for continuation of trial. 

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