The trial of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Godwin Emefiele, began yesterday at the High Court Justice of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja, with three witnesses testifying and clearing him of wrongdoings in the award of N1.2 billion vehicle supply contracts by CBN under his watch.
Emefiele was dragged before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on six counts bordering on alleged breach of procurement procedure in the award of the contract to April1616 Investment Limited.
During the trial, the first prosecution witness admitted that Emefiele was not the owner or shareholder of the April1616 Investment Limited awarded the N1.2 billion vehicle supply contract by CBN under him.
The witness, Samsideen Romanus, a top official of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), gave evidence on how the company was incorporated on August 1, 2016 and tendered several documents on how the company was floated.
He read out before the court names of the shareholders of the company, including Aminu Idris Yaro, Maryam Aliyu Abdullahi and Saadatu Ramalan Yaro as joint owners of the entity.
Romanus, who was led in evidence by EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), tendered several documents on how the company was incorporated on August 1, 2016, saying Emefiele’s name was not in any way connected with the company.
The witness said although CAC was responsible for incorporation of the company, it however has no role in the day-to-day running of affairs of the entity.
The second witness, Remigious Ugwu, a compliance officer of a commercial bank, told the court how various sums of money in millions of naira were paid by the CBN into the April1616 Investment Limited.
Specifically, he told Justice Hamza that on October 19, 2020, the sum of N39, 060,465 was paid, another N421, 953,488 was paid on November 6, 2020 and the third one, N304,883,720, was paid on November 23, 2020 to the same company by the CBN.
Similarly, he said that N304,883, 720 was paid on January 1, 2021 and another N304,883,720 was paid to the same company on March 23, 2021 by the apex bank.
He admitted that none of the payments had any link with Emefiele’s name, noting also that he did not know the purpose of the payments.
The witness who tendered various documents on behalf of the bank said that the former CBN governor was not a signatory to the bank account of the company.
The third witness, Oluwole Owoeye, a deputy director, Banking Services, with CBN and former secretary to Major Contract Tendering Committee (MCTC) of the CBN, said his body was responsible for ensuring compliance with Procurement Act by CBN in the award of contracts.
Owoeye however informed the court that his committee was not involved in the vetting of the bidding for the award of contracts that led to prosecution of Emefiele.
The witness explained that another committee handled the bidding because it was above the thresholds of his own committee
“My Lord, all I know is through our records is that contracts for award of vehicle supplies were awarded to April1616 but I cannot say whether the contracts were executed or paid for because my Committee played no role”
He admitted that MCTC and Procurement Department were fully functional, while Emefiele held sway as CBN governor.
Meanwhile, further trial has been adjourned till January 18 and 19 next year.
The former CBN chief was accused of conferring corrupt advantages on a staff of CBN, Mrs Saadat Ramallan Yaro, through awards of vehicle supply contracts worth over N1.2 billion contrary to section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.