Nigeria’s suspended cenbank governor to face fraud charges on Thursday

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s suspended central bank governor Godwin Emefiele will appear in a high court in Abuja on Thursday, when he is expected to enter a plea in a 20-count indictment, a government lawyer said on Wednesday.

Government lawyers, on Tuesday, said they had filed additional graft charges against the governor, including allegedly “conferring unlawful advantages” and “unlawful procurement”.

Emefiele is being charged alongside a central bank employee and a private firm for the alleged illegal procurement of 98 luxury vehicles and armoured buses, according to papers filed by the public prosecutor.

Local papers said the central bank employee was a director in the private company. Neither the employee, who was not named in court documents, or Emefiele, who is in detention, were immediately available for comment.

Emefiele, suspended by President Bola Tinubu in June, had already pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing a firearm illegally, which were subsequently withdrawn.

Government lawyers said they withdrew the firearm charge “because of emerging facts pending further investigations.”

A judge in Lagos granted him bail following his plea on July 25 but he was immediately rearrested.

Tinubu, who is embarking on the boldest reforms in Africa’s biggest economy in more than a decade, has launched a probe of the central bank under Emefiele after criticising its policies at his inauguration in May, especially moves to prop up the naira currency.

($1 = 784.39 naira)

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Sharon Singleton)