Home Politics Emefiele Collects Bribes Before Awarding Contracts, Ex-CBN Staff Testifies

Emefiele Collects Bribes Before Awarding Contracts, Ex-CBN Staff Testifies

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The second prosecution witness, a former Director of Information Technology of the Central Bank of Nigeria, John Ayoh, has told the Lagos High Court Sitting in Ikeja that former governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele, does not award contracts without collecting bribes.

Ayoh stated this while testifying before Justice Rahman Oshodi on Monday in the ongoing trial of the former Central Bank Governor on allegations of abuse of office and accepting gratification to the tune of $4.5bn and N2.8bn.

Ayoh said, “That is how he operates, he will not award contracts without collecting anything”.

While being led in evidence by Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness narrated how he collected some monies on behalf of the former CBN Governor.

He said that the first money he collected was $400,000 which Emefiele’s assistant, John Adetola, came to his house in Lekki to collect for Emefiele.

Ayoh also told the court that the second money he collected for Emefiele was another $200,000 which was brought by one of the CBN contractors to the headquarters of the bank at its Tinubu Lagos Island office.

He said that the money was contained in an envelope and when the person who came to deliver the funds, one Victor was on the premises of the Bank, he (Ayoh) called the governor (Emefiele), who told him to collect the money from the vendor as he did not want to see any third party.

Ayoh said when he went into the office to deliver the package after collecting it, he saw several Bank CEOs including the late Hebert Wigwe, who were waiting outside the office of the governor to see him.

While answering questions under cross-examination from Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olalekan Ojo, who represented the former CBN Governor, the witness denied that he had ever been a party to any crime, but admitted that he had facilitated the commission of a crime unknowingly. He said, “I believe I did admit in my statement that I was forced to commit the crime.

“ I don’t know the exact word I used in my statement, but I said we were all forced with tremendous pressure to bend the rules.”

The witness also admitted that he did not write in his statement to the EFCC, that the monies were given to influence the award of contracts but added “that this is how he (Emefiele) operates. He will not award contracts without collecting anything”.

READ ALSO: Emefiele Challenges Jurisdiction Of Lagos Court To Try Him

Before the witness testified, the former CBN governor had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try him.

Emefiele submitted that he cannot be tried in the high court of any state in Nigeria for alleged acts of abuse of his office as this raises issues of constitutionality and legality.

The former CBN Governor also noted that counts 1-4 of the 26 counts charge filed by the EFCC against him are unconstitutional as they are not contained in any law in Nigeria.

His counsel asked the court to make AN ORDER to strike out the charge against him.

In his application brought pursuant to Sections 36(12), 251 AND 270 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AS AMENDED and Sections 11, 58 AND 60 OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE LAW OF LAGOS STATE, Emefiele had also submitted that the CBN is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal High Court has the jurisdiction to the exclusion of other Courts in matters concerning alleged abuse of office by a public officer in a Federal Government agency.

He also stated that none of the elements of the offences he is alleged to have committed occurred or took place in Lagos State having regard to the materials in the Proof of Evidence.

Citing Sections 374 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and Section 396 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law as well as decided authorities from the appellate courts to buttress his points, Ojo urged the judge to resolve the objection on whether the court has the jurisdiction to try the case.

On his part, the second defendant’s counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kazeem Gbadamosi, relied on the submissions of Ojo.

In his response, counsel to the EFCC, Oyedepo objected to the submissions of Emefiele’s counsel.

Citing decided cases of the Supreme Court, he asked trial judge, Justice Rahman Oshodi, not to defer or prevent the trial of the case on the basis of objections challenging the particulars of the counts of the information.

He said, “That approach is intended to take us back to where we are coming from as these were the basis for Section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA and the purpose for which Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL was intended. The intention of our collective resolution as a nation was to prevent undue delay in our criminal cases.

“I urge my lord to refuse this invitation, trial has commenced, this application to prevent the trial today is unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional and I urge the court not to depart from the decision of the apex court as to do so would amount to judicial rascality.

In his Ruling, Justice Oshodi, elected to defer his decision on jurisdiction till the end of trial and when he delivers judgment.

The judge also directed EFCC to serve the defence team with the extra judicial statements of witness no 6, one John Ogah and that of another investigation officer.

The court also ruled that the totality of the EFCC’s case against Emefiele would be heard in open court, following the withdrawal of an application by the prosecution requesting a closed-session for some of its witnesses, owing to safety concerns.

Further proceedings in the matter has been adjourned till May 3, 2024, when the court will continue with the trial.

The EFCC had on April 8 arraigned Emefiele alongside his co-defendant Henry Isioma-Omoile over alleged abuse of office and allocation of $4.5bn, N2.8bn.

The defendants are being prosecuted on a 26 count charge bordering on alleged abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property, fraudulently obtaining and conferring corrupt advantage, preferred against them by EFCC.

They both pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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