Home » Ex-CBN Governor Emefiele Faces Fresh Charges Over Naira Redesign Scandal

Ex-CBN Governor Emefiele Faces Fresh Charges Over Naira Redesign Scandal

The former head of Nigeria's central bank is accused of illegally investing billions of naira in foreign accounts and mismanaging the country's currency policy

by Victor Adetimilehin

LAGOS, Nigeria – Godwin Emefiele, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is facing new criminal charges over his role in the controversial naira redesign policy that cost the country billions of naira.


Emefiele, who is currently in custody for a N1.2 billion procurement fraud, is alleged to have lodged billions of naira in 593 foreign bank accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, and China without the approval of the CBN board of directors and the CBN Investment Committee.


According to a report by the Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, Jim Obaze, Emefiele invested £543, 482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks alone without authorisation.


Obaze submitted his final report to President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday, after being appointed by the president in July 2023 to probe the activities of the CBN under Emefiele.


The report revealed that Emefiele also abused the CBN Ways and Means, a mechanism that allows the CBN to grant temporary advances to the federal government to cover budget deficits, by padding the approved amount with N198,963,162, 187 and taking N500 billion without presidential approval.


Based on a report by Punch,  Emefiele is accused of misrepresenting the presidential approval for the NESI Stabilisation Strategy Limited, a company set up by the CBN to manage the power sector intervention fund, and allotting unauthorized share capital to himself and his deputy, Mudashiru Olaitan.


Naira Redesign Policy


One of the most contentious issues that Emefiele is being investigated for is the naira redesign policy, which was initiated in 2022 to reduce the cost of printing and maintaining the naira notes, as well as curbing counterfeiting and inflation.


The policy involved redesigning and reconfiguring the N1000, N500, and N200 notes, and printing them locally by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPM).


However, the policy was marred by irregularities, inefficiencies and corruption, according to the investigator’s report.


The report stated that Emefiele contracted the redesign of the naira to De La Rue of the UK for £205, 000 pounds under the vote head of the Currency Operations Department after the NSPM said it could not deliver the contract within a short timeframe.


The report further revealed that Emefiele spent N1.7 billion on questionable legal fees for 19 cases instituted against the naira redesign policy, and that the policy did not achieve its intended objectives, as the cost of printing the new notes exceeded the cost of printing the old ones.


The report estimated that N61.5 billion was earmarked for the printing of the new notes, out of which N31.79 billion had been paid.


As of August 9, 2023, N769 billion of the new notes were in circulation.


Emefiele’s Fate Hangs in the Balance

Emefiele, who served as the CBN governor from 2014 to 2022, was arrested in November 2023 for his involvement in a N1.2 billion procurement fraud, in which he allegedly inflated the contract for the supply of security equipment to the CBN headquarters.


He was arraigned before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory and granted bail in the sum of N300 million, but he has not been able to meet the bail conditions. He has denied all the allegations against him and said he acted in the best interest of the country.


His lawyer, Mathew Bukkaa, SAN, said he would challenge the findings of the investigator’s report and prove his client’s innocence.


Emefiele’s case is one of the biggest corruption scandals in Nigeria’s history and has raised questions about the integrity and competence of the country’s monetary authorities.

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