Nigerian prosecutors took a significant step on Tuesday by lodging a 20-count indictment against Godwin Emefiele, the central bank governor who is currently suspended and detained. One of these charges involves the accusation of granting unlawful advantages, as disclosed by a representative from the government’s legal team.
President Bola Tinubu, known for initiating substantial reforms in Africa’s largest economy in over a decade, initiated an investigation into the central bank during Emefiele’s tenure. This move came after Tinubu criticised the bank’s policies in May during his inauguration, specifically addressing measures taken to support the national currency, the Naira.
While the specific details of the new charges are not immediately apparent, previous court documents, submitted by the Attorney General’s Office a month prior, had outlined allegations against Emefiele. These included charges related to criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds, carrying the potential for lengthy imprisonment sentences.
Emefiele, who made an unprecedented bid for the Nigerian presidency the previous year, was suspended by Tinubu on June 9. He has since been in custody under the jurisdiction of the secret police since June 10.
Earlier, the suspended central bank governor entered a plea of not guilty to the possession of a firearm charge. On July 25, a judge granted him bail following this plea, only for him to be promptly re-arrested.
A government legal representative informed Reuters that “comprehensive charges” have been formally lodged and that the prior firearm case at the Federal High Court in Lagos is being withdrawn.
Despite his detention, Emefiele has contested the grounds of his confinement and submitted an application for bail. Nevertheless, he has refrained from issuing public statements concerning the allegations.
During his time as governor, Emefiele introduced a policy involving multiple exchange rates with the intention of artificially bolstering the national currency’s strength. This stance was viewed as a point of national pride by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari.
Initially appointed by Buhari for a second five-year term in 2019, Emefiele was slated for retirement in the upcoming year. His tenure as the second-longest-serving governor of the central bank coincided with overseeing significant economic challenges in Africa’s largest economy.
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