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EFCC grills Emefiele over alleged $15b foreign debts, new currency

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EFCC grills Emefiele over alleged $15b foreign debts, new currency
  • AGF seeks Tinubu’s approval for EFCC to take over ex-CBN gov’s probe

  • Special Investigator Obazee submits interim report to President

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday began a full-scale probe of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, with alleged $15 billion foreign debts topping the investigation.

Emefiele will also account for how the apex bank spent N74.84 billion to produce and roll out currencies, including new naira notes.

The allegations are in addition to alleged fraud uncovered by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, who is looking into the activities of the CBN.

Obazee, whose committee is collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Nigeria Police, has also submitted an interim report on the CBN to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

It was learnt yesterday that the ex-CBN governor was transferred from the Department of State Services (DSS) to the EFCC because the fresh investigation is not covered by the mandate of the security agency.

The DSS does not have the core competence to investigate the weighty allegations of financial crimes against Emefiele, a highly placed source said yesterday.

There were fears that if the DSS continues with the investigation, the ex-CBN governor might win in court on technical grounds.

The source said only the EFCC can put Emefiele on trial, not the DSS, based on the findings made so far.

Emefiele was transferred (technically released) to EFCC on Thursday afternoon to allow for in-depth investigation and trial.

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The swap was kept under wraps in order to avoid what the source described as a “distraction.”

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Having appraised the allegations against Emefiele and the interim report on the ongoing probe of the CBN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) sent an advisory to the President that the EFCC is the right agency to probe Emefiele, it was learnt.

“As a man of due process, the President approved the advisory of the AGF. It was on this basis that the DSS handed over Emefiele to the EFCC on Thursday,” The Nation learnt yesterday.

About two to three weeks ago, the Special Investigator on CBN activities, Jim Obazee, submitted an interim report to the President with a lot of findings requiring in-depth investigation. This was another reason the AGF was very strong in his opinion that the EFCC should manage the ongoing probe.

“The truth is that such an investigation is not within the mandate of the DSS. Or else, if Emefiele is put on trial by the DSS, he will win on technical grounds,” the highly placed source said.

At press time, it was confirmed that a panel of EFCC operatives had started grilling Emefiele on the allegations against him, including the following:

•Alleged foreign debts of $15 billion

•Spending of N74. 84 billion on Naira redesign, production and roll out of currencies

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•Alleged fraud in Anchor Borrowers Schemet

•Suspicious audit of CBN accounts

•Acquisition of bank, Fintech licences by some top officials of CBN

•Award of suspicious billions of Naira contracts

Another source in EFCC added: “Emefiele is in our custody and he is already responding to issues or allegations raised for him from a team under the supervision of the Director of Operation, Abdulkarim Chukkol.

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“As a commission, we won’t talk on his case in order not to compromise ongoing investigation.”

The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Dele Oyewale, was yet to pick his call at press time.

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Alleged N80bn Fraud: Yahaya Bello to appear in court for trial today

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Ex-Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

After several months of hide-and-seek between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the former governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the ex-governor is expected to appear before the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 13 for arraignment on the corruption charge against him.

The former governor, through his lawyer, finally agreed to submit himself to the court at the last adjourned date.

Bello’s lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, gave the undertaking to Justice Emeka Nwite on May 10, shortly after the court rejected the defendant’s request for suspension of trial.

According to him, the former governor was not afraid of arraignment but of the safety of his life in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

He said the life of his client has been under consistent threats in Abuja, hence his decision to go underground for safety.

The agreement to submit to court trial was informed by Justice Nwite’s remarks that the EFCC, as a law-abiding body, would not do anything contrary to the provisions of the law.

The judge said Bello was not the first former governor to be merely invited by the anti-graft agency and would not be the last.

The judge also said that the charges are based on allegations that have not been proved, adding that the law presumes any accused person innocent until proven otherwise.

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He advised the senior lawyer to prevail on his client to respect the law and order of the court as a law-abiding person.

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Bello’s lawyer, responding to the admonition, thanked the Judge for the hint, adding that, with the assurance that the EFCC would not do anything untoward, the former governor would be brought to court.

“All my client needs is just an assurance for the safety of his life, which has been under threat for some time in Abuja.”

The lawyer requested for four weeks to bring his client before the court.

He said Bello would, however, come to the court instead of the EFCC to take his plea in the charges.

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‘I did my Dobale’, Tinubu breaks silence on Democracy Day fall at Eagle Square

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Minimum Wage: FG denies offering N105,000
President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu late yesterday, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, broke his silence on a viral video on social media where he missed his steps and tripped earlier in the day during the proceedings at the Democracy Day Parade at Eagle Square, Abuja.

Speaking at the Democracy Day Dinner, Tinubu, a Yoruba from South West Nigeria, said tongue-in-cheek that he was only performing a traditional Yoruba gesture of respect.

“Early this morning, I had a swagger and it is on social media. They are confused on whether I was doing Buga or doing Babariga but it is a day to celebrate democracy while doing ‘dobale’ for the day. I am a traditional Yoruba boy and I did my Dobale,”

The president also underscored the importance of national orientation and collective effort in fostering a prosperous future for the country.

“Nigeria is blessed, our complexity, our diversity is there, but is the best road to success. Whatever we have to invest in our national orientation, we have to do it,” Tinubu declared, stressing the need for a concerted effort to instill a sense of service and patriotism among Nigerians.

He also noted that the nation’s national anthem encapsulated the essence of service, a value he observed being practiced by many governors across the country.

He expressed his gratitude to the governors, acknowledging their dedication to serving their people irrespective of their political affiliations.

“We include in our national anthem, the essence of service. I have seen many governors, both live and on tv, serving their people. They belong to other parties and many of them are here tonight. Thank you, Governor Eno, of Akwa Ibom, thank you Governor Okpara, my comrade from Kaduna, thank you, Sheriff and Abia, thank you. If I miss you, forgive me. Everybody has forgotten the partisanship column and embraced that green, white, green that depicts Nigeria.”

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Acknowledging criticisms of the national anthem, he called on governors to redouble their efforts in fostering a sense of duty and national character among citizens.

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“Citizenship is not just the dictionary meaning of it, it is the actual character. Let us teach this to our children, so that Nigeria collectively, we will do the job that we are called upon to do as both family or nation under God almighty,” Tinubu urged.

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NLC counters Tinubu, says no agreement reached with FG on minimum wage

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Minimum wage: Govs who can't pay should resign - Labour
NLC President, Joe Ajaero and other union leaders

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) says it has not reached an agreement with the federal government on the minimum wage.

In his Democracy Day speech on Wednesday, President Bola Tinubu said the federal government has negotiated with organized organised labour “in good faith and with open arms” on a new national minimum wage.

The president added that an executive bill on the minimum wage would be sent to the national assembly “to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less”.

In a statement on Wednesday night, NLC said the president may have been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

“We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups,” the statement reads.

“However, we had expected Mr. President to have used this understanding as one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonize the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

“The NIC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the federal government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.”

The NLC said its demand still remains N250,000, adding that it has not been given any compelling reasons to change this position.

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“We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC,” the labour body added.

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“There was none, and it is important that we let the president, Nigerians, and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage.

“We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

“However, we want to reaffirm our belief that the President, on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides, will prepare an executive bill which content will reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers.

“We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and the masses by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria.”

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