The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has adjourned the hearing of the Nigerian government’s fresh N6.9bn procurement fraud case against the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the second time.
The case that was adjourned by vacation judge, Justice Hamza Muazu last week was not listed on the court’s cause list this morning, August 23, 2023.
It was gathered at the courtroom that the arraignment was shifted at the instance of the detained CBN Chief.
According to Daily Post, Emefiele and his-co accused, Saadat Yaro, have opted for a plea bargain policy to settle with the Federal Government.
Emefiele’s lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kehinde Akinlolu, confirmed the shift in the arraignment.
He said that a new date may likely be issued by the Chief Judge, Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf.
At the time of this report, operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, who used to escort him to court, and his legal team were absent.
Recall that Emefiele was charged alongside Mrs. Ramalan-Yaro, and her company, April 1616 Investment Limited.
Mr. Emefiele and Mrs. Ramalan-Yaro, described in the charge as a CBN staff member, were accused of conspiracy and procurement fraud involving as much as N6.9 billion.
The charges alleged that Mr. Emefiele conferred corrupt advantages on Ms. Ramalan-Yaro, using her firm, April 1616 Investment Limited.
The government alleged that the defendants perpetrated procurement fraud through the award of contracts to Mrs. Ramalan-Yaro’s company for the supply of cars.
The defendants, allegedly through the corrupt transactions, purchased a fleet of about 100 posh vehicles and armoured buses worth about N6.9 billion.
The alleged corrupt transactions took place between 2018 and 2020, according to the charges.
Mr Emefiele has been in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS) since 10 June, a day after President Bola Tinubu, suspended the bank chief from office.
Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, under which he was charged, provides a five-year jail sentence upon conviction.
“Any public officer who uses his office or position to gratify or confer any corrupt or unfair advantage upon himself or any relation or associate of the public officer or any other public officer shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for five years without an option of fine,” the law stipulates.
President Bola Tinubu suspended Mr Emefiele as the CBN governor on 9 June. The next day, 10 June, the SSS picked him up in Lagos and flew him to its headquarters in Abuja for interrogation.
Mr Emefiele has since remained in SSS custody. His co-defendant in the fresh case, Mrs Ramalan-Yaro, who was arrested alongside her husband, Aminu Yaro, on 12 July, is also still in custody.
This newspaper reported how the FCT High Court ordered the release of the couple on 25 July. But the order was not complied with.
It took an order of the FCT High Court on 13 July, more than a month after the arrest, for the SSS to file the firearms charges against Mr Emefiele.
Subsequently, on 25 July, the SSS arraigned him before the Federal High Court in Lagos on two charges of “illegal possession” of firearms and live ammunition.
The government last week Tuesday applied to have the firearms possession charges against Mr. Emefiele dropped.