N150bn Fraud: Don't Sack Me, CBN Gov Emefiele Begs

By Tony Icheku, Abuja

The high wired drama began unfolding at  Abuja, FCT High Court,  Monday, July 1, 2019 in the matter of Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative,CWAI, v Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria , CBN.

CWAI, following the audio recordings of suspicious transactions at Nigeria's Central Bank, CBN dragged the apex bank's boss to court  praying the Court to declare him innocent or guilty.

''Don't sack me'', counsel to Mr. Emefiele,  Mssrs D. D. Dodo pleaded before the Judge,  Justice Danlami Senchi.

Counsels from Dodo & Co  failed to proffer adequate response to the Originating Summons, and resorted to emotional and hollow arguments. 

Emefiele's legal counsel who appeared before the judge  ignored the 'Question for Determination':  Whether  Mr Emefiele is a  fit and proper person to superintend Nigeria's apex bank with regards to his role in the alleged N500 billion diversion under his watch, and  chosed  to address the consequences of his removal.

If Emefiele as CBN governor is made to vacate his seat, a vacuum would be created in Nigeria's financial system provoking a ''leadership crisis and creating a needless uncertainty in the financial system capable of destabilising the economy'', Mssrs Dodo pleaded.

During the court session, counsels to CWAI, Mssrs Osuagwu Ugochukwu and Sorgwe Osomuvele technically knocked out Emefiele's cousels: arguing that counsels to Emefiele ''...did not file a memo of appearance''

Nonetheless, Justice Senchi  while questioning counsel to the defendant ascertained that indeed N150 billion could not be accounted for by the CBN.

It will be recalled that in an affidavit deposed to by CBN's Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, only N150 billion classified as 'bad loans' was missing.

While cross-examining the lead counsel, Justice Senchi confirmed same. However, counsels from Mssrs Dodo & co,  argued that CWAI has no locus standi in querying activities or have cause to institute an action against CBN or its governor.

theledgerng.com reports that Emefiele, writing as CBN Governor in a letter  to the Inspector General of Police Office (IGP) on June 28, 2019, admitted veracity of reports of missing monies from CBN's accounting books, he however urged for full scale investigations to ascertain who bugged his telephone line and that of other senior management staff of the CBN who were discussing the transactions and were recorded.

It will be recalled that the CBN has previously accepted that the audio conversation was genuine but maintained that no money was missing from the apex bank's books.

Accordingly to Mr. Okorafor, CBN's Director Corporate Communications: “The selective conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolve it. Obviously, it soon became clear that a state government’s loan cannot be classified as bad or ‘irrecoverable’ when the state still exist and getting FAAC allocations”.#

In his reaction, Emefiele, urged the IGP to investigate the audio leak.

In a memo to the IGP titled: ';'Security breach at the Central Bank of Nigeria – a request for investigation'', Emfiele argued: ''...it is apparent from the audio clips that my telephones including GSM and those of top officials of the bank must have been bugged. This is no doubt a very disturbing development of monumental proportion and has very serious implications not only for the bank as a central monetary authority but also the nation’s economy. It is also capable of tarnishing the image, good standing and integrity of the bank with the country’s development partners and eroding confidence in the economy''

Emefiele then asked the police boss to unravel how his phone was bugged and who released his phone conversation. According to him, “I request you kindly use your good office to unravel the circumstances surrounding the bugging and wire tapping of the bank’s telephones and the release of my private/confidential telephone conversations with other top officials of the CBN to Sahara Reporters”.

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