Ex-CBN Gov Emefiele in Kuje prison (Photo credit: Tribune online)

Former Nigerian central bank chief arraigned and remanded in prison for alleged fraud

The Associated Press |

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who was removed from office in June, was on Friday charged with procurement fraud at a local court, which remanded him in prison pending his bail ruling.

In amended charges, the Nigerian government said Godwin Emefiele illegally awarded contracts for dozens of vehicles during his time as the governor of the apex bank in Africa’s largest economy, according to court documents.

The charge sheet alleged that Emefiele used his position as the bank’s governor to “confer a corrupt advantage” on another member of staff by awarding the contracts to a company with links to that staff member, thereby breaching Nigeria’s procurement laws.

Appearing in court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Emefiele pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could land him in jail for at least five years if convicted. He has been in custody for most of the time since he was removed from office.

Regarded as one of the most powerful government officials in Nigeria when he led the bank, Emefiele’s nine years of overseeing Nigeria’s monetary policy affairs was ended by Nigeria’s new president, Bola Tinubu, shortly after he took office in May.

The Nigerian presidency had said his suspension was to enable an investigation into the central bank’s affairs as part of new reforms in the financial sector, though it did not surprise many because of some of the bank’s policies had been seen as controversial such as Nigeria’s failed currency swap program.

Some of his monetary policies also appeared different from the agenda of Tinubu while he was running for president — which matters in a country where the presidency has a huge influence on how the central bank operates.

His prolonged detention and investigation had complicated his case, leading him to sue Nigeria’s secret police for allegedly breaching his fundamental rights by detaining him longer that the period provided by the law. He was later released on court orders.

The court is expected to rule on his bail application next week.

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