How Emefiele moved CBN funds to wife

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An Assistant Manager with Zenith Bank Plc, Ifeoma Ogbonnaya, has narrated how the immediate past Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, moved funds to his wife, Margaret Emefiele.

Ogbonnaya told the Special Offences Court sitting in the Ikeja area of Lagos State on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, how Emefiele used the bank to move multimillion naira to his wife.

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Emefiele is standing trial over abuse of office and alleged $4.5 billion and N2.8 billion fraud while in office.

Ogbonnaya, the fifth prosecution witness, was led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN).

She told the court how Emefiele used Zenith Bank to transfer millions of naira in tranches to his wife through various companies.

Ogbonnaya said the companies that received the cash flow were Amswing Resources and Solution, Limelight Dimensional Service Limited, Omec Support Service Limited, and Mango Farm.

“Limelight manages the facilities of CBN, located at Alakija and all transactions pertaining to power and fixing things that are not working was always done by the vendors,” she said.

The witness, who is also the Business Relationship Manager, joined Zenith Bank in 2006.

Ogbonnaya said she never had direct dealings with Emefiele but received instructions from his wife to transfer cash from CBN into their private companies through Zenith Bank account.

She said apart from Mrs Emefiele, she also received instructions from two other people, one Mr John Ogah and one Mr Opeyemi Oludimu, who worked for Emefiele but now late.

The witness, however, said she managed the companies’ accounts through which the multimillion naira was sent to.

The bank official stated: “Mrs Margaret Emefiele is the direct beneficiary of the accounts.

“The companies sent transfer instructions to my email and Margaret is the beneficial owner of the accounts.

“All transactions made in the accounts were confirmed by Mrs Emefiele before they were processed.

“She sends transfer instructions directly to my official email address with Zenith Bank or sends two other persons to act on her behalf but I still receive approval from her.”

Ogbonnaya disclosed that from March 9 to 11, 2015, the accounts received cash flow from the CBN to the tune of N18.9 million and N1.8 million, respectively

“On February 22, 2021, there was a cash flow of N43 million from CBN. On July 21, 2022, there was a cash flow of N37.3 million; on October 21, 2022, there was a credit flow of N44.6 million, and on May 10, 2023, there was a cash flow of N93.1 million from CBN, among others,” she said.

The Zenith Bank official further disclosed that she usually communicates with Emefiele’s wife through email, phone calls, and WhatsApp on transactions that were to be carried out on the accounts before processing them.

She said the bundles of documents which entailed the various transactions were printed from her office desktop computer.

Ogbonnaya said: “The documents were sent to my email and when the investigation started, I was requested to print all the documents to the law enforcement which I did.

“I printed them from the office desktop and took them to the compliance officer.

“I also have a certificate confirming that these documents were printed from Zenith Bank.”

The prosecution sought to tender the bundles of documents which entailed the various transactions that took place between the witness and Emefiele’s wife.

Emefiele’s counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), and the second defence counsel, Kazeem Gbadamosi (SAN), did not object the admissibility of the documents.

The court, thereafter, admitted into evidence the certificate of identification, bundle of printed documents, following no objections from the defence counsels.

The witness, thereafter, spoke into the documents and briefly explained the inflow and outflow of funds, purportedly sent from the CBN through Zenith Bank to Emefiele’s wife.

The prosecution also sought the indulgence of the court for the witness to write down the number in which she used to have conversations with Mrs Emefiele on an A4 paper which was admitted into evidence.

Ogbonnaya, however, said she could not remember some digits of the number by heart but she could recall it through her mobile phone.

The two defence counsels, however, objected to the witness, recalling the number through her phone.

The presiding judge, Justice Rahman Oshodi, had earlier in the proceeding granted the application filed by the second defence counsel to recall the first prosecution witness, Monday Osazuwa.

The EFCC had, on April 8, arraigned Emefiele on 23 counts bordering on abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property fraudulently obtained, and conferring corrupt advantage.

His co-defendant, Henry Omoile-Isioma, was also arraigned on three counts bordering on acceptance of gift by agents.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty.

The judge, however, adjourned the case until Wednesday, July 10, for the continuation of trial.

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