A panel appointed by President Bola Tinubu to investigate the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) activities during the tenure of former Governor Godwin Emefiele has uncovered unauthorised investments of Nigeria’s funds in 593 foreign bank accounts across the United States, China, and the United Kingdom.
The special investigator appointed by President Tinubu in July, Jim Obazee, submitted the final report on December 20. The report reveals that Emefiele, without authorization, invested significant amounts, including £543,482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks alone.
According to the report, “The former governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, invested Nigeria’s money without authorization in 593 foreign bank accounts in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom while in charge. All the accounts where the billions were lodged have all been traced by the investigator.”
The investigator, Jim Obaze, recommends that Emefiele and some top management team members face trial for the alleged illegal transactions and misappropriation of funds for unauthorized purposes. The charges may include:
- Unlawful issuance of currency under section 19 of the CBN Act.
- Involving Tunde Sabiu.
- A former aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari.
- Twelve top directors of the CBN.
The investigation also exposed the unauthorized naira redesign policy, initiated without Buhari’s approval. Sabiu reportedly influenced Emefiele to consider the redesign in September 2022.
The redesign, approved only for printing in Nigeria by Buhari, was mentioned to the CBN board in December 2022, after Emefiele awarded the contract to the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc in October 2022.
Emefiele later contracted the redesign to De La Rue of the UK for £205,000 after the NSPM couldn’t meet the timeframe. N61.5 billion was allocated for printing the new notes, with N31.79 billion paid by August 9, 2023, and N769 billion in circulation.
The CBN probe also revealed the fraudulent use of N26.627 trillion in Ways and Means of the Apex Bank and the misuse of the COVID-19 intervention fund.
The investigation found instances where former President Muhammadu Buhari approved amounts that were padded with N198,963,162,187 and cases where N500 billion was taken without approval from the former president and debited to Ways and Means.
“There are more shocking instances where the erstwhile CBN governor and his four deputy governors connived to steal outright to balance the CBN books.
“This was by violently taking money from the Consolidated Revenue account and then charging it to Ways and Means. It was a total of N124.860bn. They even created the narration as a presidential subsidy and expanded the ways and Means portfolio to accommodate crime.
“The CBN officers and even the then acting CBN governor could not produce the Presidential Approval of most of the expenses described as ‘Ways and Means.’ When confronted to provide the breakdown of the supposed N22.7trn that was presented to the 9th National Assembly to securitise as ‘Ways and Means’ financing illegally, they were only able to partially explain a total of N9.063 trn or N9.2trn depending on which official you are considering his submission and an unreasonable attribution of non-negotiated interest element of N6.5tn.
“This shows that this was the point where the officers of the immediate past administration, as well as the erstwhile CBN governor and his four deputy governors, connived, defrauded, and stole from the commonwealth of our country with the aid of civil servants.”
The report continued, “The proper position of the Ways and Means as documented from the reconciliation between the CBN and the Ministry of Finance at the time is N4,449,149,411,584.54.
“This may have been the main reason the past administration hurriedly sought that the 9th National Assembly securitise the advances of N22.7trn on December 19, 2022, which they also hurriedly did even though it contravenes section 38 of the CBN Act, 2007.”
Under Emefiele’s leadership, the CBN is reported to have expended N1.7 billion in dubious legal fees for 19 cases related to challenges against the naira redesign policy.
The investigator further unveiled instances where Emefiele purportedly misrepresented the presidential approval for the NESI Stabilisation Strategy Limited, sanctioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The document read, “The Presidential approval granted by then President Goodluck Jonathan was rightly stated by him NESI should be a company limited by guarantee, but the Committee of Governors misled the Board of the CBN by relying on non-existent advice by the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to incorporate a company limited by shares for which the allotted share capital exceeded the authorized share capital (See 380th meeting of the Committee of Governors held in January in January 2015) and allocating unauthorized share capital to Mr. Godwin Emefiele and Mr. Mudashiru Olaitan without lawful approval by the President.
“N1.325bn was stolen pre-incorporation, and the money was funneled to four companies, including a legal firm that got N300mn.”
Between 2015 and 2021, an investment company was said to have unlawfully collected a total of N4.89bn.
A breakdown indicated that the firm received N262mn in 2015, N464mn in 2016, N550mn in 2017, N726mn in 2018, N762 in 2019, N684 in 2020, and N1.44bn in 2021, totaling N4.89bn.
Emefiele also allegedly paid N17.2bn to 14 deposit money banks participating in the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility.
“A total of 14 DMBs engaged in the manipulation by unlawfully arranging and collecting 1.9535 percent of the total disbursements paid to the DMBs participating in the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility.
According to External Auditor’s Notes to the Financial Statements of NESI Stabilisation Strategy Limited, the fees are paid to the banks in the ratio of their contributions to the NEMSF disbursement.
“The CBN also went further by authorising debenture issuance for the NESI SPV, starting with N64.8bn in 2015. By 2021, N952bn debenture had been issued. The investigator said the money was diverted from public funds,” the document further stated.
It is additionally reported that Emefiele may face charges for the alleged manipulation of the naira exchange rate, fraudulent execution of the e-naira project, and granting exemption from income tax payment to three foreign firms.
During the investigation, it was revealed that an illicit withdrawal/theft of $6.23 million occurred from the CBN vault. Currently, in custody, two individuals allegedly used a forged presidential letter to carry out the unauthorized withdrawal.
The forged letter, dated February 7 and 8, 2023, purportedly bore the signature of President Buhari and was used to withdraw funds supposedly designated for payment for foreign election observation missions.
Emefiele, presently held at Kuje Custodial Centre, faces prosecution for N1.2 billion procurement fraud.
Despite being granted N300 million bail by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on November 22, he has been unable to fulfill the bail conditions.
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