Home » How Buhari’s Signature Was Used to Steal $6.2 Billion from Nigeria’s Central Bank

How Buhari’s Signature Was Used to Steal $6.2 Billion from Nigeria’s Central Bank

Former SGF testifies in trial of ex-CBN governor over $6.2 billion fraud

by Motoni Olodun

A shocking scandal has rocked Nigeria as a former top official revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s signature was forged to withdraw $6.2 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for a fraudulent scheme.

Boss Mustapha, who served as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) from 2017 to 2023, testified on Tuesday in the trial of Godwin Emefiele, the former governor of the CBN, who is facing 20 counts of criminal charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mustapha told the court that he did not know about the massive withdrawal, which was allegedly made for the payment of foreign election observers ahead of the 2023 general elections. He said his signature was also forged, along with Buhari’s, in the documents that authorized the release of the funds.

He said the documents did not originate from the presidency, as they contained several irregularities and errors. He also said the federal government had no business paying for foreign observers, as that was the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He further said the signature on the documents was a failed attempt at reproducing Buhari’s signature, but he would leave that to the experts to verify.

The EFCC accused Emefiele of conspiring with one Odoh Ocheme, who is still at large, to obtain the money from the CBN on February 8, 2023, claiming that it was requested by the SGF “vide a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.”

The anti-graft agency said the money was diverted for personal use and never reached the intended beneficiaries. It said the scheme was part of a larger plot to influence the outcome of the elections, which Buhari won for a second term.

The EFCC said it had traced some of the money to bank accounts and properties belonging to Emefiele, Ocheme, and their associates. It said it had also recovered some of the money and assets from them.

The case has generated widespread outrage and condemnation in Nigeria and abroad, as many see it as a blatant abuse of power and a betrayal of public trust. Some have called for Buhari to resign or face impeachment, while others have demanded a thorough investigation and prosecution of all those involved.

The case has also cast a shadow over the credibility of the 2023 elections, which were marred by allegations of rigging, violence, and intimidation. Some observers have questioned the legitimacy of Buhari’s victory, which he secured with 55% of the votes, according to the official results.

The case has also exposed the vulnerability of Nigeria’s financial system, which has been plagued by corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiency. Some analysts have warned that the scandal could have serious implications for the country’s economy, which is already struggling with inflation, unemployment, and insecurity.

The CBN, which is supposed to be independent and accountable, has not issued any statement on the matter, nor has it taken any action to prevent such fraud from happening again. The bank’s website does not provide any data or statistics on its withdrawals or expenditures, making it difficult to monitor its activities.

The trial of Emefiele, who was appointed by Buhari in 2016 and served until 2023, is expected to resume on March 15, 2024. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and has been granted bail.

Source: BusinessDay NG

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