Emefiele: Former SGF Distances Self, Buhari From Alleged $6.2bn Withdrawal from CBN

From Lateef Taiwo

In the resumed trial of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja, on Tuesday, the immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, told the court that the withdrawal of $6.2 million dollars payment for foreign election observers was not authorised by him.

Mustapha who appeared as a witness in the ongoing trial mounted the box and testified as the fourth prosecution witness, PW-4.

He informed the open court that that both his signature and that of former President Muhammadu Buhari, was forged by those that withdrew $6,230,000 from the vault of the apex bank on February 8, 2023.

He told the court that he was neither aware nor took part in any correspondence that led to the withdrawal of the fund which was allegedly meant for the payment of foreign election observers.

Led in evidence by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, the former SGF maintained that documents that authorised the withdrawal of the money, neither emanated from his office nor the presidency.

He equally denied receiving any amount from the said money.

While faulting the authorization letter that was purportedly issued from his office, Mustapha, told the court that it was not the business of the federal government or the office of the SGF to request funds from the CBN for the payment of foreign election observers.

He said the responsibility of relating with such observers was solely that of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

While distancing himself from the withdrawal, the witness, said: “My lord, all through my service year as the SGF, I never came across these documents.

“It was claimed that Buhari also signed, but on the face value of this document, having served for five years and seven months as SGF, this document did not emanate from the president for the following reasons.

“A correspondent that has the seal of Nigeria does not carry a reference number. The seal is the authority.

“Secondly, I have looked at it and read the document. Federal Executive Council, FEC, decisions are not transmitted by letters. They are transmitted through extracts after conclusions are adopted.

“Thirdly, I am the custodian of FEC, the president will not refer executives’ conclusions to me.

“Also, in all the five years and seven months I stayed in office, I never heard of the term ‘Special Appropriation Provision’, referred to me.

“The terms known to me my lord are appropriation as provided by the Appropriation Act, which is normally passed by the National Assembly. When the government file drafts, it brings Supplementary Appropriation.

“In all the correspondences I have received from Buhari, it has never had or ended with: ‘Please accept the assurance of my highest regard.’

“I am his subordinate. My correspondences do not carry that.

“And lastly, looking at the signature, it is a failed attempt at reproducing Buhari’s signature. I will leave that to the experts,” he added.

Recall that yesterday an official of the apex bank, Mr. Onyeka Ogbu, had earlier in his testimony, told the court that the money was withdrawn and handed in cash to an official from the office of the SGF, named Jibril Abubakar.

He said the action was backed by approvals by both President Buhari and the former apex bank cheif Emefiele, following a request by the ex-SGF, Mustapha.

However, in his evidence, the former SGF told the court that he never knew the said Abubakar, adding that he was not a staff in his office.

He equally told the court that contrary to the claim in the letter, President Buhari did not preside over the FEC meeting on the day the purported approval was given, but the then Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Meanwhile, trial Justice Hamza Muazu has adjourned further hearing in the matter till March 7.


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