Emefiele’s trial: Buhari’s approval for Naira redesign admitted as exhibit

The approval of former President Muhammadu Buhari for the re-design of Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, was on Tuesday tendered and admitted as exhibit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja.

The approval dated October 6, 2022 from the State House and personally signed by the former President was conveyed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under Godwin Emefiele as governor to proceed with the project of redesigning and printing of the currency.

The Chief of Staff to President Buhari was said to have transmitted the written Presidential approval to the CBN.

Also tendered and admitted as exhibits are samples of the re-design currency as approved by Buhari.

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The documents were tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through its witness and former Director of Currency Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Ahmed Bello Umar.

The witness was led in evidence by EFCC’S lead counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.

Umar who claimed to have authored some memos in relation to the project, however revealed that Emefiele partly departed from the approval of the former President.

Among others, the witness said that while the portraits in the samples endorsed by Buhari were on the right side, those printed have the portraits on the left side.

The former Director of Currency Operations at the CBN also claimed that the numbering styles for the currency adopted by Emefiele were different from the modes adopted by CBN under Emefiele.

Similarly, the witness said that while the approved samples have QR code, those printed did not have the features.

Under cross examination by Mahmoud Magaji, SAN, counsel to Emefiele, the witness admitted that Buhari actually approved the Naira redesign project.

He also admitted that Buhari on December 29, 2023 publicly launched the re-designed Naira currency for the use of Nigerians as legal tender.

The witness also admitted that the re-designed currency has his own signature as Director of Currency Operations adding that no currency becomes legal tender without his own signature.

The EFCC had on May 15, 2024 arraigned Emefiele on a four count charge before Justice Maryanne Anenih of the FCT High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

Emefiele however denied the charge and was admitted to bail in the sum of N300 million.

In the four count charge, the anti-graft agency claimed that Emefiele embarked on the Naira redesign without the approval of the Board of the CBN as well as then President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Specifically, the EFCC accused Emefiele of approving the printing of various quantities of the new Naira notes “without the recommendation of the Board of Central Bank and the strict approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria which conduct of yours caused injury to the public and you thereby committed an offence”.

While in count one he was accused of approving the printing of 375,520,000 notes at the cost of N11 billion, in count two he was accused of approving the printing of 172 million coloured swapped N500 notes at the cost of N4.4 billion.

Also in count three, the former CBN boss was alleged to have approved for printing 137,070, pieces of coloured N200 notes at the cost of N3.4 billion.

He was, in count four, alleged to have withdrawn the sum of N124, 860, 227, from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation in a manner not prescribed by the National Assembly.

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