How Emefiele Operated Separate Foreign Reserve Account Without FG's Knowledge

Photo credit: The Punch Newspapers
Byline: Mohammed Bello Doka,
Abuja Network News

In a shocking revelation, a security report has exposed the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for operating a separate foreign reserve account without the knowledge of the Federal Government. The report claims that Emefiele orchestrated the creation of two foreign reserve accounts for Nigeria, with the second account containing approximately $47 billion, which the government was unaware of.

Furthermore, the report reveals that under Emefiele's leadership, the CBN has been maintaining 527 private bank accounts with significant sums of public money, totaling several billions, without the government's knowledge. These alarming allegations are part of a security report submitted to former President Muhammadu Buhari by the Department of State Services (DSS) earlier this year.

The DSS report, which contains additional damning evidence against Emefiele, compelled the former president to summon the then CBN governor for a closed-door meeting on January 19, 2023. Emefiele had already visited the Presidential Villa earlier that day as part of another delegation. However, his second meeting with President Buhari focused on the fresh allegations and overwhelming evidence presented in the DSS report.

Despite the gravity of the accusations against him, Emefiele refused to comment on the issues discussed at the meeting when approached by State House correspondents. Prior to this, the DSS had accused Emefiele of aiding and abetting terrorism, leading to demands for his prosecution. The report cites Emefiele's alleged involvement in terrorism financing, fraudulent activities, and economic crimes of national security concern.

Emefiele, aware of the investigations against him, attempted to evade arrest and interrogation by the DSS. He even delayed his return to Nigeria after traveling abroad and sought assistance from close associates of President Buhari. Mamman Daura, a nephew and confidant of the president, and Nasir El-Rufai, the then Governor of Kaduna State, were influential figures pressuring the DSS Director General, Yusuf Bichi, to drop the investigations.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Emefiele, the DSS had interrogated and obtained documentary evidence from his deputies at the CBN, external auditors, and managing directors of 27 commercial banks. These inquiries focused on allegations of corruption and fraud, particularly concerning forex allocations. The investigations led to the discovery of 12 additional allegations against the CBN governor.

During the interrogations, CBN's external auditors revealed that they had been paid by Emefiele to prepare doctored audit reports that the federal government unknowingly relied upon. The DSS also found discrepancies in the controversial Ways and Means approval requested by the Finance Minister, which was significantly higher than initially presented to the National Assembly.

One of the new allegations under investigation is the misappropriation of the $3.6 billion COVID-19 palliative funds provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) two years ago. Emefiele allegedly diverted the money into a private account in China without notifying the federal government. The Finance Minister reportedly requested $700 million from the IMF palliative to offset staff salaries, while the remaining $3 billion remains deposited in a Chinese bank unknown to the government.

The report further casts doubt on the existence of the much-touted Single Treasury Account (TSA), suggesting that it was a deceptive mechanism created by Emefiele to mislead the government and the public. The DSS investigation also uncovered an allegation that Emefiele instructed the managing directors of commercial banks to give him an annual "pocket money" of N30 billion each, with one newly established bank allegedly paying him the least amount of N5 billion.

Emefiele attempted to obtain an interim injunction from the Abuja High Court to restrain the DSS from gathering information from the CBN and commercial banks regarding forex allocations over the past six years. However, the DSS had already acquired a comprehensive list of individuals involved in forex distribution, including high-ranking officials in the Presidency.

The security report, which former President Buhari failed to act upon, was recently resubmitted to the President Bola Tinubu-led administration. As a result, President Tinubu suspended Emefiele from his position as CBN governor and appointed an acting governor. Following the suspension, the DSS arrested Emefiele in his Lagos residence and transported him to Abuja for further questioning regarding the numerous allegations brought against him.

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