Court allows Emefiele to travel out of Abuja

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The Federal Capital Territory High Court has granted the request of a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to travel out of Abuja.

Emefiele, through his lawyer, Mathew Bukka, SAN had requested for a variation of the terms in his bail conditions.

On November 22, 2023, Justice Hamza Muazu of the FCT High Court granted Emefiele bail in the sum of N300m with two sureties in like sum after he was arraigned on corruption charges.

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On Thursday, the Federal Government filed an amended 20-count charge against former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The fresh charges filed by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel Rotimi Oyedepo SAN include forgery, conferring of corrupt advantage, and criminal breach of trust among others.

The government had initially filed 19 charges against the former CBN governor bordering on procurement fraud.

The development comes two months after Emefiele’s initial arraignment on six counts related to procurement irregularities in awarding a contract to April 1616 Investment Limited.

In August 2023, the anti-graft agency brought charges against Emefiele, Sa’adatu Yaro, and the company for violating the Procurement Act during the purchase of vehicles.

The EFCC initially amended the charges in November, dropping the co-defendants and reducing the charges against Emefiele to six.
He pleaded not guilty and was granted bail by Justice Hamza Muazu on November 22, 2023.

The bail conditions included a N300 million bond, two sureties with property in Abuja’s Maitama district, surrender of travel documents, and restricted movement within the city.

But with the amended charge, the EFCC’s pursuit seems far from over. The EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court of the amended charge.

The 20-count charge includes, Count 1: “Conferring corrupt advantage contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000”

The particulars of offence are that “You, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, male, adult, sometime in 2019 did use your position as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’aclatu Ramallan Yaro, a staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria by awarcling a contract for the supply of 37 (Nos.) Toyota Hilux Vehicles at the cost of N854,700,000 only to April 1616 Investment Ltd, a company in which the said Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro is a Director and you thereby committed an offence.”

Count 2: “Conferring corrupt advantage contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.”

The offence particulars are “That you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, sometime in 2019 did use your position as Governor of the CBN to confer a corrupt advantage on Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, a staff of the CBN by awarding a contract for the supply of 1 (No.) Toyota Avalon at the cost of N99,900,000 only to April 1616 Investment Ltd, a company in which the said Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro is a Director and thereby committed an offence.”

Justice Muazu added that the sureties must have landed property in the Maitama District of the FCT.

The judge also ordered the former CBN governor not to leave the court’s jurisdiction and directed him to deposit all his travel documents with the court.

At the proceedings on Thursday, Bukka urged the court to grant the prayers of his client.

He assured the court that Emefiele would not jump bail if the restriction was lifted.

Bukka added that the defendant’s traveling documents are with the court, adding that given the status of the defendant, he won’t jump bail.

The counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, did not object.

He said, “From experience, we have seen cases where travel documents are with the court and the defendant will travel out of the country. What they usually do is to go to the immigration and depose an affidavit that their traveling documents are missing.

“So, in addition to his traveling documents being with the court, he should write an undertaking that the defendant will remain in Nigeria for the duration of his trial. I am not in any way suggesting the defendant will jump bail.”

Ruling, the judge held that Emefiele must remain in the country pending the conclusion of his trial.

He said, “The defendant’s application is hereby granted. He must remain in the country for the pendency of his trial. “