The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has been re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 20 fresh counts of corruption and fraud.
Emefiele, who served as the CBN governor from 2014 to 2023, is accused of abusing his office and awarding contracts worth over N854 million to a company linked to one of his staff, Sa`adatu Ramallan Yaro.
He is also alleged to have obtained $6.23 million by false pretence from the federal government, claiming that it was for a logistic advance requested by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Emefiele pleaded not guilty to all the charges before Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Maitama, Abuja, on Friday, January 19, 2024.
His re-arraignment came a day after the same court granted him permission to travel out of the FCT, but not out of the country, for personal and official reasons.
His lawyer, Mathew Burkaa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had applied for the court to lift the restriction on his movement, which was imposed when he was first arraigned in November 2023.
The EFCC, represented by Rotimi Jacobs, a SAN, did not object to the application, but asked the court to ensure that Emefiele does not abscond or interfere with the witnesses.
Justice Muazu granted the application, but ordered Emefiele to stay within Nigeria and report to the court whenever he is needed. He also warned him against tampering with evidence or influencing the outcome of the trial.
The judge adjourned the case to February 12 and 13, 2024, for the commencement of trial but sustained the bail earlier granted to the defendant.
Emefiele is the first former CBN governor to face criminal charges in Nigeria. He was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 and reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
He is also faced criticism for his alleged role in the controversial $2.1 billion arms deal scandal, which involved the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.
The EFCC had earlier arraigned Emefiele on six counts of procurement fraud on November 17, 2023, before the same court. He also pleaded not guilty to those charges, which were later amended to 20 counts to include the allegations of obtaining by false pretence and forgery.