Emefiele spent N1.7bn defending naira redesign in court – CBN investigator

An independent report has indicted the embattled former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, of spending over N1.7 billion on legal fees for suits instituted against the naira redesign policy introduced during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

According to the report by The PUNCH on Friday, Emefiele spent questionable legal fees for 19 cases instituted against the policy.

The report quoted Emefiele as also using N1.325 billion, for what was described as “stolen pre-incorporation,” adding that the money was funneled to four companies, including a legal firm that got N300 million.

Between 2015 and 2021, an investment company was said to have collected unlawfully 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.

Continuing, the reports further indicted Emefiele of also allegedly paying N17.2bn to 14 deposit money banks participating in the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility.

Among the people who instituted an action against Emefiele on the policy were eight states, including Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ekiti, Kano, and Ondo, while disagreeing with the deadlines for the use of old Naira notes in the country.

The suit came as a result of the difficulties caused by the policy in the lives of citizens, the practicality of the deadline, and the constitutionality of the policy.

Aside from the states, another litigant was a Lagos-based lawyer, Tope Alabi, who approached the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for leave to initiate contempt proceedings against the ex-CBN governor for alleged disobedience of the Supreme Court orders on its naira redesign policy.

Alabi made the application via a March 27 ex parte motion in the suit, with Emefiele listed as the sole respondent.

Describing the naira swap as a “cash confiscation policy,” he said it had affected the day-to-day running of his office as his staff could not make it to work daily due to the non-availability of physical cash, adding that commercial drivers “do not have a point of sale device/machine to collect fares.”

The lawyer filed a 28-page affidavit in support of his application wherein he claimed that the Supreme Court on March 10, in Suit No. SC. 162/2023, “directed Emefiele to make available and allow the old naira notes of N200, N500, and N1000 to co-exist as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 notes till December 2023.”

“The respondent who had withdrawn N200, N500 and 1000 old notes from circulation on 10 February 2023 has refused to comply with the Order of the Supreme Court made on 10 March 2023 till date by releasing the old notes to circulation.”

The document also stated, “The CBN also went further by authorising the issuance of debenture 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.’’

It was further gathered that Emefiele could be tried for alleged manipulation of the naira exchange rate, fraudulent implementation of the e-naira project, and exemption of three foreign firms from paying income tax.

(Punch)

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