By Our Correspondent
The arraignment of suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja over N6.9 billion alleged procurement fraud has been stalled due to the absence of the second defendant who are said to be indisposed.
Although Emefiele (the first defendant) was present in court today (Thursday), the second defendant, a female CBN employee, Sa’adatu Yaro, was not in court.
Following an application for adjournment, the Presiding Judge, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the matter to August 23, 2023.
Emefiele will be arraigned alongside Yaro and her company, April1616 Investment Limited on 20 charges of procurement fraud, conspiracy and conferring corrupt advantages on his associates.
The embattled apex bank chief, who has been in detention since he was suspended from office on June 9, 2023, was accused of conferring corrupt advantages on Yaro, a director in April 1616 Investment Ltd.
The offence is contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
The section read, “Any public officer who uses his office or position to gratify or confer any corrupt or unfair advantage upon himself or any relation or associate of the public officer or any other public officer shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for five years without an option of fine.’’
In the charges signed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar; Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, Mrs Nkiru Jones-Nebo and eight other ministry officials, the three accused persons were alleged to have bought a fleet of over 98 exotic vehicles and armoured buses valued at about N6.9bn.
Some of the vehicles bought between 2018 and 2020 included 84 Toyota Hilux vehicles, 10 armoured Mercedes Benz buses, three Toyota Landcruisers and one Toyota Avalon car.
Count one read, “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in 2018 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did use your position as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, a staff member of the Central Bank of Nigeria by awarding a contract for the supply of 37 (Nos.) Toyota Hilux Vehicles at the cost of N854,700,000 only to April 1616 Investment Ltd, a company in which she is a director and thereby committed an offence.
“Statement of the offence: Conferring corrupt advantage contrary to section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.’’
The Federal Government further accused Emefiele of conspiracy to confer corrupt advantage on the second defendant contrary to sections 26 (c) and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under Section 19 of the same Act.
“That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, female, adult, and April 1616 Investment Ltd, sometime in 2019 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to use the office of Mr. Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, a staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria by awarding a contract for the supply of 1 (No.) Toyota Landcruiser V8 at the cost of N73,800,000 only to April 1616 Investment Ltd,” the charge stated.
Emefiele was said to have also conferred a corrupt advantage on Yaro by awarding a contract for the supply of one Toyota Avalon at the cost of N99.9m to her company, April1616 Investment Ltd., in 2019.
The suspended governor was also accused of awarding a contract for the supply of another Toyota Landcruiser V8 for N77.050m to the third defendant in 2018.
The ex-CBN governor was said to have conspired with Yaro to confer corrupt advantages on the CBN staffer by awarding to her a contract for the supply of two Toyota Hilux Shell specification vehicles at the cost of N44.2m sometime in 2020.
Emefiele was further alleged to have awarded another contract to Yaro and her firm for the purchase of one Toyota Landcruiser VXR valued at N96m in 2020.
Yaro was similarly accused of fraudulent acquisition of property for getting a contract from the CBN for the supply of 47 Toyota Hilux vehicles at the cost of N1,085, 700,000 and thereby committed a punishable offence.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday had fixed today (Thursday) for its ruling on an application by the Federal Government seeking to withdraw the “illegal possession of firearm charge” it filed against Emefiele.