The arraignment proceedings initiated by the federal government against the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, along with CBN staff member Sa’adatu Yaro and her company, April1616 Investment Limited, have once again hit a pause.
Insider sources revealed that discussions are underway for a potential plea bargain between Emefiele, the CBN staff member and the federal government.
The Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, had initially postponed the arraignment due to Yaro’s absence, citing her illness as confirmed by Mohammed Abubakar, counsel from the Office of the Attorney General of the federation.
The federal government had recently filed fresh charges of procurement fraud, totaling 20 counts, against them.
The relevant section of the charges states, “Any public officer who exploits their position to gain a corrupt or unfair advantage for themselves, associates, or relatives, shall be deemed to have committed an offense and shall be subject to a five-year imprisonment term without the possibility of a fine.”
Some of the specific counts read, “In 2018, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, utilized your position as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to unjustly benefit Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, a Central Bank of Nigeria staff member, by awarding a contract worth N854,700,000 for the supply of 37 Toyota Hilux Vehicles to April 1616 Investment Ltd., a company in which she holds a directorial position, thereby committing an offense.
“Furthermore, in 2019, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, you, Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, and April 1616 Investment Ltd., colluded to use the authority vested in Mr. Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide an unjust advantage to Sa’adatu Ramallan Yaro, a Central Bank of Nigeria staff member, by awarding a contract worth N73,800,000 for the supply of 1 Toyota Landcruiser V8 to April 1616 Investment Ltd.
“The charge involves conferring a corrupt advantage, as defined in section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.”
The defendants stand accused of exploiting their positions to divert public funds and acquire luxury vehicles for themselves.
However, at today’s expected court hearing, the case was notably absent from the court’s schedule, despite being slated for that day.
Subsequently, a reliable source connected to the case disclosed that the adjournment occurred with the consent of the legal representatives following negotiations for a plea bargain between Emefiele and the federal government.
“While negotiations can go in various directions, it’s evident that discussions are ongoing between Emefiele and the federal government,” the source remarked, albeit in an off-record capacity due to a lack of authorization to comment on the matter.
Efforts to obtain insight from Adedayo Adedeji Esq and Aishetu Isa, members of Emefiele’s legal team, through phone calls yielded no comments regarding the court’s unanticipated hiatus.
Recall that the federal government had applied to withdraw another charge bordering on illegal firearm possession against Emefiele.
This followed a directive from an FCT High Court, mandating the Department of State Services to either arraign the suspended CBN governor within a week or release him after being detained for over a month.