Obazee’s report: Emefiele fires back, says I‘ve no knowledge of 593 foreign accounts

Embattled former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said the Naira redesign policy got President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.

Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his report, stated that Emefiele did not get Buhari’s ‘express approval’ before implementing the policy.

The report also alleged the former CBN helmsman connived with some Nigerian officials to have opened 593 foreign accounts while in office.

However, in a statement Sunday in Abuja, the former CBN boss described the reports as misleading and targeted at tarnishing his image and injuring his character.    

He said: “First, it was reported that, contrary to the provision of the CBN Act 2007, there was no presidential approval for the Naira redesign. I wish to state unequivocally that there was indeed a presidential approval, and the said approval was handed over to the same Jim Obazee during the process of his investigation in the presence of senior CBN officials and his own investigative team.

“Moreover, the former President Muhammadu Buhari has stated on a number of occasions that he authorised and approved the Naira redesign. I am therefore at a loss as to why Mr. Jim Obazee will mislead Nigerians that there was no presidential approval.”

According to the former head of Nigeria’s apex bank, reports of what transpired during his tenure as the CBN governor were false, misleading and meant to injure his character.    

According to him, they were all meant to serve the selfish interest of the private investigator.

 “After my release on bail from the correctional centre, Kuje, my attention was drawn to publications released by some mainstream and online news platforms.

“The sources of the information published by both media houses were credited to a certain report prepared by a Mr. Jim Obazee, who was appointed by the President as a private investigator,” Emefiele said.

The leaked report of the special investigator had also claimed that Emefiele also withdrew the sum of $6.23 million from the CBN vault based on a false presidential directive bearing the signature of the former President Muhammadu Buhari, and that of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.

 Emefiele stressed that he was not aware of such documents from the former President and SGF.

He said: “About two weeks ago, Jim Obazee in company of a certain Deputy Commissioner of Police from Force CID came to Kuje to ask me questions in respect of the said document in the presence of my lawyers. I stated verbally and in writing that I have no knowledge of such a directive from the former president and the former SGF. In fact, I told them that, that was the first time I would be seeing the documents.

“On this, I challenge Jim Obazee to publish the said documents and also the statements that I made to them.

“The final issue that I would like to respond to is the issue of the 593 accounts which were purportedly opened in different parts of the world. I state categorically that I am not involved in the opening of these accounts and I do not have knowledge of their openings.

“The fixed deposits in those foreign accounts are definitely outside my knowledge.

“However, let me state clearly that the relevant departments of the CBN have the authority to carry out such activities in line with their lawful mandate within the CBN. I therefore join well-meaning Nigerians who have spoken on this matter and have demanded a thorough and transparent investigation of all these alleged frauds.”

Emefiele said he had instructed his lawyers to immediately commence the legal process to clear his name from the defamatory statements contained in the report and by extension the publications.

…Boss Mustapha clears name

 Also in his reaction, the immediate past SGF Mustapha denied a report alleging his involvement in the illegal withdrawal of $6.23 million from the CBN.

The former SGF, in a statement he personally signed, described the allegations as “outrageous and unsubstantiated.”

He insisted that the allegations were a “malicious fabrication” and an “orchestrated attempt to assassinate his character and besmirch my reputation”.

According to reports, the event supposedly occurred on February 8, 2023 — weeks before the presidential election.

The report also alleged that Mustapha, alongside the embattled former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, ordered the removal of the cash under the guise of funding foreign election observer missions.

The investigator’s report claimed CCTV footage captured how the money was moved out of the CBN.

But Mustapha said he was not aware of the purported “Presidential Directive.”

The ex-SGF noted that he was never involved in discussions or transactions related to any payments for foreign election observers.

The ex-SGF questioned the timing of the report, saying it was a deliberate attempt to exploit public sentiment and sow seeds of doubt during a sensitive pre-Christmas period.  

He therefore called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the matter, urging the authorities to “probe the source of the fabricated documents and expose those behind the smear campaign.”