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Witness confirms $6.2m payment for foreign election observers

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A Deputy Director in charge of Branch Operations in the Central Bank of Nigeria, Onyeka Ogbu, on Monday, told a Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama that he was aware of a $6.2 million payment request for international election observers.

The former governor of the bank, Godwin Emefiele, is standing trial on an amended 20 charges bordering on criminal conspiracy, conferring undue advantage, and breach of trust among others preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He was accused of impersonating the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to illegally obtain a sum of $6.2m.

The anti-graft agency alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document titled: “Re: Presidential directive on foreign election observer missions” dated January 26, 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.

At the resumed proceedings, Ogbu who is the prosecution witness, said the request was made on January 8, 2023.

He noted that he reviewed the documents and subsequently gave approval for disbursement, which was then executed.

Ogbu said, “On January 8, 2023, a request for payment of $6, 230, 000 was brought to my attention by the Banking Services department.

“Ours is to make payment, we don’t have the power to approve.

“Having gone through the documents and satisfied, I minuted on it and sent for processing and disbursement which was complied with.”

All documents were identified, but certain pages were absent.

This led the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), to request a temporary halt for the issue of the missing pages to be addressed.

The defendant’s counsel, Matthew Burkaa (SAN), however, objected, adding that the prosecution is bound by the evidence presented in the documents.

He said adjournment is better to allow the prosecution to get all the certified true copies and also for the witness to be cross-examined.

After listening to their submissions, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned till Tuesday for the continuation of trial.

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