Socio-cultural group, the Arewa Youths Movement (AYM), has said that the exoneration of former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor Godwin Emefiele, by witnesses of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the court, was clear evidence that he was being witch-hunted.
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja on Tuesday commenced the trial of Emefiele, with three witnesses exonerating him of wrongdoings in the award of N1.2bn vehicle supply contracts by CBN under him.
Reacting to the development, AYM in a statement by its leader, Kabiru Yusuf, said with the witnesses’ statements, it’s clear the embattled former CBN governor was innocent and for months was being witch-hunted.
He also recalled several baseless accusations against Emefiele and violation of Court orders by the anti-graft agency.
The group appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure the rule of law is protected by directing the security agencies to respect court rulings.
It also called for Emefiele’s release, lamenting that for months, he has been denied his fundamental human rights and is being held in jail unjustly.
The statement reads: “Emefiele was put on trial by the Federal Government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC on six counts bordering on alleged breach of procurement procedure in the award of the contract to April1616 Investment Limited.
“At the opening of the trial, the first prosecution witness admitted that Emefiele was not the owner or shareholder of April1616 Investment Limited which was awarded the N1.2bn vehicle supply contract by CBN under Emefiele
“The witness, Samsideen Romanus, a top official of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) gave evidence on how the company was incorporated on August 1, 2016, and tendered several documents on how the company was floated.
“He read out before the Court, the names of shareholders of the company which comprised Aminu Idris Yaro, Maryam Aliyu Abdullahi and Saadatu Ramalan Yaro as joint owners of the entity. Romanus who was led in evidence by EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo SAN while tendering several documents on how the company was incorporated on August 1, 2016, said Emefiele’s name was not in any way connected with the company.
“The witness explained that although CAC was responsible for the incorporation of the company, it, however, has no role in the day-to-day running of affairs of the entity. The second witness, Remigious Ugwu, a Compliance Officer with Zenith Bank told the court how various sums of money in millions of naira were paid by the CBN into the April1616 Investment Limited.
“Specifically, he told Justice Hamza Missing how, on October 19, 2020, a sum of N39, 060, 465, another N421, 953, 488 on November 6, 2020, and the third one N304, 883, 720 was paid on November 23, 2020, to the same company by CBN. He admitted that none of the payments had any link to Emefiele’s name while also clarifying that he did not know the purpose of the payments.
“The witness who tendered various documents on behalf of the bank said the former CBN governor was not a signatory to the bank account of the company.
“The third witness, Oluwole Owoeye, a Deputy Director, Banking Services with CBN and former Secretary to the Major Contract Tendering Committee, MCTC of the CBN, said his body was responsible for ensuring compliance with the Procurement Act in the award of contracts.
“Owoeye, however, informed the court that his committee was not involved in the vetting of bidding for the award of contracts that led to the prosecution of Emefiele.
“The witness explained that another committee handled the bidding because it was above the thresholds of his own committees. The above testimonies by these witnesses, are clear evidence that Emefiele was being witch-hunted.”