EMEFIELE COLLECTED $600K KICKBACK IN CASH FROM CONTRACTORS, FORMER CBN DIRECTOR TELLS COURT

John Ikechukwu Ayoh, a former director at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has testified against Godwin Emefiele, ex-governor of the apex bank, in the ongoing case of abuse of office at the Lagos high court.

 

 

Emefiele and his co-defendant, Henry Omoile, are currently facing trial on a 26-count charge.

 

 

 The former CBN governor and Omoile pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

 

 

 

At the court proceedings on Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) presented Ayoh as the second witness in the case against Emefiele.

 

 

 

Ayoh told the court that he worked at the apex bank from June 2014 to April 2019 noting that he did not work directly under Emefiele.

 

 

 

Ayoh added that he used to report to Adebayo Adelabu, a former deputy governor of CBN, who is now the minister of power.

 

 

 

The witness said he was the head of procurement and support services (PSS) of the apex bank, which was vested with powers to receive bids and select successful bidders.

 

 

 

The former CBN director said he collected money from contractors as gratification of awarding contracts to them based on the instruction from Emefiele.

 

 

 

The witness said Emefiele usually sends his personal assistant (PA) — John Adetona — to collect the contractors’ kickback from him.

 

 

 

Ayoh said he collected $400,000 and $200,000 in cash from contractors on two different occasions and handed them over to Emefiele’s PA.

 

 

 

“The first transaction was $400,000 and the second one was $200,000 in cash. I was in my house when the first envelope was brought to me. His assistant was asked to collect the money,” he told the court.

 

 

 

“One of the vendors had a contract with CBN which involved the implementation of data storage and infrastructure.

 

 

 

“The first package was collected in my residence at Lekki phase one, while the second package was collected at the head office in Lagos.”

 

 

 

During cross-examination by Olalekan Ojo, counsel to Emefiele, Ayoh said he was under duress from the former CBN to accept gratifications on his behalf.

 

 

 

“No, I was under duress from my boss (referring to Emefiele). We were faced with tremendous pressure to bend the rule,” the witness said when asked about aiding the commission of a crime by collecting the money

 

 

 

Asked if he indicated in his statement with the EFCC that the money was meant to influence the award of contracts, the witness said some parts of his statement implied that.

 

 

 

“Who told you that it (the money) is for gratification,” Emefiele’s counsel asked

 

 

 

“The cash is for gratification to the governor for awarding the contracts. He (Emefiele) asked for it. He won’t approve the contract without gratification,” the witness said.

 

 

 

On whether he was arrested by the EFCC, the witness said the anti-graft agency invited him and was granted bail afterwards.

 

 

 

Emefiele’s counsel told the court that the witness must have traded being charged by the EFCC to become a witness against the former CBN boss.

 

 

 

INTERIM BAIL

After the cross-examination of the witness, Emefiele’s counsel sought a fresh interim bail for the former CBN governor, pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions earlier stipulated by the court.

 

 

 

Ojo told the court that the initial interim bail granted to Emefiele ended today (Monday), adding that the defence team has not been able to meet the bail conditions.

 

 

 

He urged the court to grant Emefiele another interim bail that would end on May 17.

 

 

 

Rahman Oshodi, the presiding judge, granted the request and ordered that Ojo swear to an affidavit to provide Emefiele in the next adjourned date.

 

 

 

Oshodi adjourned to May 3, 9, and 17 for the continuation of the trial.


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