EFCC grills Emefiele over alleged $15b foreign debts, new currency

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday began a full-scale probe of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, with alleged $15 billion foreign debts topping the investigation.

Emefiele will also account for how the apex bank spent N74.84 billion to produce and roll out currencies, including new naira notes.

The allegations are in addition to alleged fraud uncovered by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, who is looking into the activities of the CBN.

Obazee, whose committee is collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Nigeria Police, has also submitted an interim report on the CBN to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It was learnt yesterday that the ex-CBN governor was transferred from the Department of State Services (DSS) to the EFCC because the fresh investigation is not covered by the mandate of the security agency.

The DSS does not have the core competence to investigate the weighty allegations of financial crimes against Emefiele, a highly placed source said yesterday.

There were fears that if the DSS continues with the investigation, the ex-CBN governor might win in court on technical grounds.

The source said only the EFCC can put Emefiele on trial, not the DSS, based on the findings made so far.

Emefiele was transferred (technically released) to EFCC on Thursday afternoon to allow for in-depth investigation and trial.

The swap was kept under wraps in order to avoid what the source described as a “distraction.”

Having appraised the allegations against Emefiele and the interim report on the ongoing probe of the CBN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) sent an advisory to the President that the EFCC is the right agency to probe Emefiele, it was learnt.

“As a man of due process, the President approved the advisory of the AGF. It was on this basis that the DSS handed over Emefiele to the EFCC on Thursday,” The Nation learnt yesterday.

About two to three weeks ago, the Special Investigator on CBN activities, Jim Obazee, submitted an interim report to the President with a lot of findings requiring in-depth investigation. This was another reason the AGF was very strong in his opinion that the EFCC should manage the ongoing probe.

“The truth is that such an investigation is not within the mandate of the DSS. Or else, if Emefiele is put on trial by the DSS, he will win on technical grounds,” the highly placed source said.

At press time, it was confirmed that a panel of EFCC operatives had started grilling Emefiele on the allegations against him, including the following:

•Alleged foreign debts of $15 billion

•Spending of N74. 84 billion on Naira redesign, production and roll out of currencies

•Alleged fraud in Anchor Borrowers Scheme

•Suspicious audit of CBN accounts

•Acquisition of bank, Fintech licences by some top officials of CBN

•Award of suspicious billions of Naira contracts

Another source in EFCC added: “Emefiele is in our custody and he is already responding to issues or allegations raised for him from a team under the supervision of the Director of Operation, Abdulkarim Chukkol.

“As a commission, we won’t talk on his case in order not to compromise ongoing investigation.”

The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Dele Oyewale, was yet to pick his call at press time.

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